Lakers center Dwight Howard called out Shaquille O’Neal, responding to the former Lakers star that both the 76ers’ Andrew Bynum and the Brooklyn Nets’ Brook Lopez are the best true big men in the game today.
“I don’t care what Shaq says,” Howard told reporters after practice. “Shaq played the game. He’s gone. He’s done. It’s time to move on.”
Speaking in a roundtable discussion, O’Neal placed Howard below Lopez and Bynum because of his “pick-and-roll” style of play.
“We as players, we usually watch folk before us,” O’Neal recounted. “When I came in, it was Patrick Ewing and Hakeem Olajuwon, guys who played like true centers who played inside. 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 Robin Lopez and Andrew Bynum because they play with their back to the basket.”
O’Neal later corrected himself to say he was speaking about Brook Lopez and not his brother, Robin, who plays for the New Orleans Hornets.
Howard, who practiced without any limitations for the 3rd straight day as he recovers from offseason back surgery, pointed out what he perceived as O’Neal being a hypocrite.
“He detested the fact when he played the older guys were talking about him and how he played and now he’s doing the exact same thing,” Howard recounted. “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 chill out and relax. You did your thing. Your time is up. So, I do not actually care. I don’t really care. He will be able to say whatever he wants to say.”
Howard is the latest in a long line of dominant big men in Lakers history, from George Mikan, to Wilt Chamberlain, to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, to O’Neal. Basketball scores
The Lakers plan to retire O’Neal’s jersey at halftime of their game against the Dallas Mavericks on April 2.
When questioned if he would wish to get on the same page with O’Neal before the retirement ceremony, Howard 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 mentioned he’s already did his thing. He played. When my time is up, there’s going to be someone else who can do everything I can do, and possibly do it better. Instead of me talking about him, I’ll do my job to try and help him to get to where I’m at. I think that’s what guys who have done it before us should do.”
O’Neal won the 1st of his 4 championships at 27, the same age Howard will turn in December. Howard has won 3 Defensive Player of the Year awards in his first 8 seasons in the NBA, however, becoming the first player in the history of the league to win 3 in a row.