kobe bryant

The newest Lakers firestorm arrived Thursday after Kobe Bryant apparently told ESPN.com the night before that Dwight Howard needed to come back from his injured shoulder. Quickly.

But Bryant said Thursday he wasn’t prodding Howard to return.

“Not even a little bit,” Bryant said in a quiet moment after the team’s morning shoot-around, adding that he was surprised at the tone of the ESPN story. “In this case, it’s not legitimate. I was shocked.”

Bryant has a high threshold for pain, as evidenced plenty of times in the past. Howard has missed six games and left two others because of a torn labrum in his right shoulder.

Bryant understood that his own pain tolerance was through the charts.

“I’m crazy, though, so I don’t put that on other people,” he said.

– Reported by Mike Bresnahan and T.J. Simers of theĀ Los Angeles Times