Lakers center Dwight Howard indicated that the troubles he endured last season with a serious back injury are affecting the way he's handling his current shoulder injury.
After missing the previous three games, he returned to the court Thursday night and had nine points and nine rebounds before fouling out of the Lakers' 116-95 loss to the Celtics.
Howard had this to say after the game to those who believe he could've played before and can now play through the pain of a torn labrum in his right shoulder:
"They can say what they want to say. None of these people are playing; none of these people have had injuries. They can say what they want about playing through pain or playing through injuries. I spent a whole summer trying to recover because I wanted to play through pain and show people I'm tough.
"I spent eight years in Orlando, never really had an injury, and the injuries that I did have were ones I could play through it. Stuff like this, with the shoulder and the back, is not something that you can just play with and say you hope it gets better."
Howard had a herniated disk last season that required surgery. He might need surgery this offseason also, but the current issue is more whether Howard's shoulder is sound enough to play.
Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni said after Howard's first game back in Boston: "He's been (medically) cleared for a while. ... He felt better today. That's why he played."
Asked if he felt pressured to return, Howard said: "No, I didn't." Howard said he had been targeting the Boston game to return if he could, even though teammate Kobe Bryant – who played through a labrum tear in 2003 – had been publicly noting the need for Howard to learn to manage his pain.
Bryant said his statements were "really overblown. ... I didn't say anything that was groundbreaking."
Bryant said he would've been more directly critical if he'd wanted to get through a stronger statement: "If I had a message in mind, I'd be pretty black and white."
Howard on defensive about playing with sore shoulder
Orange County Register | Feb 8