MANILA, Philippines – Los Angeles Lakers All-Stars Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard mocked rumors of a locker-room feud with a humorous photo that featured the two superstars squaring off against each other.
After the New York Daily News reported that Bryant and Howard got into a "heated exchange" following the Lakers' New Year's Day loss to the Philadelphia 76ers, the two superstars made fun of the rumor.
Bryant, who joined Twitter only last week, tweeted a photo of himself and Howard holding their fists up to one another, with Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni holding the two players back. The photo was taken inside the Lakers' trainer's room.
"The mamba vs d12!! It's on lol," Bryant tweeted.
Howard posted the same photo on his Instagram account, adding the caption: "The rematch lol."
The New York Daily News cited a league source who claimed that Howard "was restrained from going at his teammate" after Bryant allegedly agreed with former Laker Shaquille O'Neal's criticism that Howard was "soft."
"There have been rumblings from (Howard's) camp that he's been unhappy with Bryant since earlier in the season," the report said.
Even before they tweeted the mocking photo, Bryant and Howard both dismissed the report.
"We all try to be professional about what we do, be professional about how we do our jobs. I guess some people try to skate around that a little bit," Bryant told ESPN.
"We're losing. Every little story that comes out is geared towards breaking our team up, but we're bigger than that. We're stronger than that and we’re not going to let anything divide us," Howard said.
Howard said that "somebody has something against our team," but insisted that he and Bryant "don't have a problem with each other."
"We're not beefing. So, for somebody to come out with a random story saying me and him got in a fight and for it to make ESPN like we’re beefing is ridiculous. I just think it's funny," Howard said.
But even with Howard and Bryant shooting down rumors of a feud, the Lakers are still in deep trouble as they continue to struggle. At 15-18, they are currently in 11th place in the highly competitive Western Conference.
Making matters worse, Howard, All-Star power forward Pau Gasol and reserve big man Jordan Hill are all out indefinitely with various injuries.