The Miami Heat will play their annual road game against the L.A. Lakers Thursday, and on Wednesday Lakers guard Kobe Bryant criticized the Heat's recent comments that Los Angeles' super team has not nearly faced the level of scrutiny the Heat did in their Big Three's first season together.
Last week, LeBron James said of the Lakers, "Even though they're not winning and they're losing a lot of games, it's still nowhere near what we went through."
That was laughable to Bryant. "What does it matter?" Bryant asked ESPN.com on Wednesday. "What does he want, a cookie for that?"
Last summer, the Lakers acquired all-NBA center Dwight Howard and perennial All-Star Steve Nash, creating a superstar core on par with the Heat's Big Three of James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh. The moves made L.A. a chic pick to win the Western Conference and depose the Oklahoma City Thunder, the reigning conference champions.
But the Lakers have struggled thus far, and currently sit 11th in the Western Conference standings with a 17-21 record. L.A. fired coach Mike Brown five games into the season, and his replacement, Mike D'Antoni, has not been able to reverse the Lakers' losing ways.
This has created a swirl of criticism in Laker-land, but the Heat were not impressed. When they started the 2010-11 season 9-8, many NBA commentators and former players dubbed the Big Three experiment a failure, and calls to trade Bosh or Wade were as common as tourists on South Beach.
Bryant is not impressed, though. Howard, on the other hand, is much less critical of James' comments, though he maintains that the Lakers are under an incredible amount of pressure.
"Most people hated LeBron for what he did and how he did it," Howard said. "Not just that he left, but the manner that he left as far as doing it on TV and the whole thing. In this situation, I don't think people have hate for the Lakers for [trading for Howard and Nash]. I think that's a little bit different. As far as pressure, with our team, everyone expected us to go 82-0 so there's a lot of pressure on us. We feel it every time we step on the court and we can hear it every time we miss a shot or somebody scores. People are upset. They don't expect anybody to score on us. It's a lot of pressure."
Howard, a friend of James and Wade, said he rooted for James last season while he was sidelined following back surgery.
"I was happy for him," Howard said. "I was mad that I was hurt. I had to watch the Finals in bed, but I was happy to see him overcome things people were saying and all the things he had to go through from leaving Cleveland."
The Heat hope to finish their West Coast road trip with a win against the Lakers, which would give them a 3-3 record on the trip.