Dwight Howard, the newest addition to the Los Angeles Lakers, responded to former Lakers star and current TNT analyst Shaquille O’Neal on Thursday about comments he made last week in a roundtable discussion that was posted on NBA.com.
In the discussion, O’Neal said Howard was the third best true big man in the game behind Andrew Bynum of the Philadelphia 76ers’ and Brook Lopez of the Brooklyn Nets.
That was enough to get Howard to sound off.
“I don’t care what Shaq say,” the Lakers’ new center said. “Shaq played the game. He’s done. He’s gone. It’s time to move on.”
But O’Neal is not going anywhere.
“When I came in it was Patrick Ewing and Hakeem Olajuwon, guys who played like true centers who played inside,” O’Neal said. “What we have now are centers that are going to the European style, which is a lot of pick-and-roll. Dwight Howard, who’s a pick-and-roll player, some people say he’s the best center in the league, but me being an old-school center, I’m going to go with (Brook) Lopez and Andrew Bynum because they play with their back to the basket.”.
Howard, who is recovering from offseason back surgery, said O’Neal was a hyprocrite.
“He hated the fact when he played that the older guys were talking about him and how he played and now he’s doing the exact same thing,” Howard said. “Just let it go. There’s no sense for him to be talking trash to me. He did his thing in the league. He’s one of the most dominant players to ever play the game. Just sit back and relax. You did your thing. Your time is up. So, I don’t really care. I don’t really care. He can say whatever he wants to say.”
Howard joins the long list of star studded centers in Lakers history, which include Kareem Abdul-Jabarr, Wilt Chamberlin and O’Neal.
On April 2, the Lakers plan to retire O’Neal’s jersey during the halftime game against the Dallas Mavericks.
Howard was asked if he wanted to be on the same page before the retirement ceremony, he replied, “What do we need to get on the same page for?”
“I have respect for him and what he did for basketball. That’s it. Like I said, he already did his thing. He played. When my time is up, there’s going to be somebody else who can do everything I can do, and probably do it better. Instead of me talking about him, I’ll do my job to try to help him to get to where I’m at. I think that’s what guys who have done it before us should do.”
This is not the first time that jabs have been traded between the players. In September, O’Neal told the Times-Picayune in New Orleans that he had “no reaction” to Howard joining the Lakers and the he felt that he still had a lot to prove.
“You have to care to have a reaction,” O’Neal said. “I’ve got businesses to run. I always tell people that in order to step in my shoes you have big shoes to fill. For him, he’s going to have to at least win three [titles] to get people’s respect.”
O’Neal won his first NBA title at the age of 27, the same age Howard will be in December. Howard has won three consecutive Defensive Player of the Year awards (2008-11) becoming the first player in NBA to achieve the accomplishment.
The tension between the two athletes will continue to be a topic of discussion throughout the season, but could possibly end if Howard can bring a title to Los Angeles.