By Ben Golliver
Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard posed in a photo Monday mocking a New York Daily News report that indicated that the two Lakers stars were recently involved in a "heated exchange" that required intervention from teammates after a loss to the Sixers.
The photo, apparently taken in the Lakers' training room, featured Bryant and Howard squaring up in their best boxing stances, with coach Mike D'Antoni hamming it up in between them. Howard has his right arm heavily wrapped; it was announced Monday that he is out indefinitely with a torn labrum in his right shoulder.
Bryant just joined Twitter on Friday, ending a years-long holdout, and he's clearly not wasting any time making his mark. After denying the rumored feud earlier Monday, Bryant tweeted the photo with the caption: "The mamba vs d12 !! It's on lol." Howard also posted the photo with the caption: "The re match lol."
The Los Angeles Times reported that both players denied the incident took place following Monday's practice.
"It's just funny. We're losing. Every little story that comes out is geared towards breaking our team up," Howard said. "We're bigger than that. We're stronger than that and we're not going to let anything divide us."
"It's not true. We all try to be professional about what we do," Bryant said. "I guess some people skate around that a little bit."
The lighthearted visual comes at a chaotic time for the Lakers, who are 15-18 after a three-game losing streak and sit three games out of the Western Conference's No. 8 playoff seed. In addition to Howard's injury, forward/center Pau Gasol suffered a concussion on Sunday and will miss at least the next two games. In recent days, Howard has questioned the Lakers' chemistry and Bryant has called the Lakers "old as s---."
Photo via @KobeBryant