As the controversy surrounding Lakers' Dwight Howard and San Antonio Spurs' Gregg Popovich during the All-Star Game was reported various media outlets and here on Project Spurs.com, it seems there's another side of the story that's developing.
The story first broke with Stephen A. Smith conducting an interview on Mike & Mike in the Morning where he commented that Popovich was furious at Howard for not paying attention during the huddle when a play was being drawn up for him. This irritated Pop, as Smith says, to the point where he cursed at Howard in front of everyone. The other side of the story has been told by T.J. Simers from LATimes.com.
The story quickly spread. San Antonio Express-News columnist Buck Harvey, among others, repeated the Smith report and used it to heap more criticism on Howard.
Harvey never talked to Popovich but did report: "Spur assistants who were in the All-Star Game huddle in Houston say the incident has been overblown."
Howard said Friday night that what Smith had told everyone "just never happened."
"Pop was diagramming a play for me, and then as he showed us what to do he kept saying, 'Blake.' So Blake and I are confused, but he keeps saying Blake, so Blake takes off his jersey and goes into the game.
"Pop sees me and wants to know why I'm not in the game running the play, so I tell him he kept saying Blake so Blake went in. He wasn't swearing at me."
This is a completely different story than what Stephen A. Smith told, especially since he ran with it as fact over rumor. Simers goes on to say that Smith's rumor or misreporting served as ammunition against Howard, which is exactly right. Howard's reputation has taken a big hit after last season where his coach said he wanted him fired. It seems Dwight's innocence in the eyes of the media and fans has disappeared.
While the incident may have been overblown, it wouldn't be unusual for assistant coaches to downplay the story anyway especially the San Antonio Spurs. As a club, they prefer to keep all matters away from the media. To be fair to Howard, Stephen A. Smith was really the only source (besides his own sources) to the situation that made it seem as big drama.
Now that the All-Game is over with, both men are back to doing their own jobs with their respective teams and that should at least bury any news that went with this story… for now anyway.