But Bryant was fairly complimentary toward Howard when asked about him Thursday before the Lakers played the Houston Rockets.
"From what I've seen, it seems like they want to really feature him even more," Bryant said. "It seems like they're posting him up even more. They sound really determined to have even more of a breakout year offensively than he's had in the past, which I think is great."
Really? It's great?
"I think he'll have a great year," Bryant said. "He was always very determined to be more of an offensive player. Here in Houston, he'll have that opportunity to do that. He always wanted to compete with the all-time greats -- the Chamberlains, the Shaqs, the Olajuwons and so forth. This year should be a year where he can put up those type of numbers -- 25, 26 points a game."
Nice words, but Bryant and Howard are not friends. No way.
"We speak every day," Bryant said sarcastically.
Bryant noticed that Clippers fans booed Howard when he was introduced before the Rockets-Clippers game Monday. It was Howard's first game at Staples Center since leaving the Lakers as a free agent in July.
"The city of L.A., whether you're a Clipper fan or a Laker fan, if somebody doesn't want to be in L.A., they take it personally no matter what," Bryant said.
Bryant joked that Clippers fans were "undercover" Lakers fans.
Howard doesn't visit the Lakers until Feb. 19. Bryant said he would be back by then.
"I hope so, barring any major setback," he said incredulously.
In his weekly talk with reporters, Bryant said he continues to progress in his rehab from a torn Achilles' tendon and was enduring a second consecutive week of solid conditioning. He said in the past he would need three consecutive weeks before returning but on Thursday declined to state a timetable.
"I've been pushing pretty hard," he said. "The hardest thing is the conditioning, getting back and playing at a high level."
Bryant said he felt no pain but was "not quite" ready to test his lateral movement.
"I've got to really get down being comfortable and feeling strong, working through the fatigue first of running straight forward," he said. "Once that's there, the muscle endurance is there, then you start doing more lateral things."
Bryant somewhat clarified his recent Twitter post of the vague phrases "blackout" and "bearhunt."
He acknowledged that "blackout" was a strenuous workout and shot down Lakers optimists who figured "bearhunt" meant Bryant was pointing to a return Nov. 15 against the Memphis Grizzlies.
He didn't exactly describe what "bearhunt" meant, but it probably referred to the day after Bryant was injured. In an emotional Facebook post that morning, Bryant quoted a Jay-Z lyric, “If you see me in a fight with a bear, [pray] for the bear.”
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