Kobe, Howard Headed for Rocky Finish

Kobe, Howard Headed for Rocky Finish

Kobe Bryant is frustrated with a former Orlando Magic center who clowns a lot and can't shoot free throws, and as we all know from the documented past, this probably won't end well.

At least Kobe won three championships with Shaquille O'Neal before running him off, and the story seems destined to repeat itself with Dwight Howard, minus the rings. Yes, their relationship, cozy at first – Kobe calling Dwight "misunderstood" and a "good dude" just three months ago when the Lakers were champions on paper – is veering off the yellow-bricked road and toward splitsville. Once you start questioning, even gently, a teammate's heart and pain threshold, really, is there any turning back? Isn't that the one injury that can't heal?

In a loopy 48-hour stretch, where the Lakers won their sixth out of seven games but lost Pau Gasol for six weeks, Kobe called out the player who holds the key to him winning a sixth championship. And see, that's the whole problem. Kobe's a win-at-any-cost guy. He doesn't care if he has to step over someone's dead body to win a championship. Meanwhile, Howard is putting a premium on his health and his future. Until he's 100 percent healthy on his terms, and that might not be this season, he's a yeah-I-want-a-championship-but guy. You see? This is one of those Hollywood marriages you give six months or less.

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