Before the 2012-13 NBA season began, Dwight Howard told Sports Illustrated that Kobe Bryant had been "secretly" helping him become a better player for about four years while he was in Orlando. But judging from Howard's performance against the Los Angeles Kings' mascot, Kobe might need to give him a few more pointers on shooting.
The Lakers' new big man lost to Bailey The Lion, the Kings mascot, in a shooting contest after practice Wednesday morning. According to ESPN LA's Dave McMenamin, the lion was on hand to film some segments of Lakers players interacting with the NHL champions' mascot and the MLS champions' trophy when he challenged Howard to a free-throw shootout. After losing to the 5' 10" Bailey on a side court, the 6' 9" Howard stated that it didn't count since it wasn't on the main court, where the lion again beat the star center. The contest then moved to the three-point line, but three times was not a charm as Bailey claimed victory again.
As McMenamin reports, Howard claimed he was intentionally throwing the competition for the benefit of Bailey's self-esteem.
"I was being a team player today, missing shots," he said. "Allowing him to get his shots off so he can feel good about himself. Sometimes you have to lose to win."
The excuse was dismissed by PTI's Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon, though Wilbon was more willing to give Howard the benefit of the doubt, suggesting that for all we know, the man in the lion suit could very well have been a seasoned shooter earlier in life.
As NBC 4's Fred Roggins noted, "Maybe the Lakers would have been winners tonight if Bailey was at the free-throw line."