Los Angeles Lakers

Los Angeles Lakers: Does It Matter What Shaq Thinks of Dwight Howard?

ORLANDO, FL - NOVEMBER 11:  Shaquille O'Neal #33 of the Cleveland Cavaliers looks to maneuver against Dwight Howard #12 of the Orlando Magic during the game on November 11, 2009 at Amway Arena in Orlando, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
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Todd PheiferAnalyst IIIOctober 5, 2012

The Los Angeles Lakers are preparing for what will be a particularly intriguing season after the additions of Steve Nash and Dwight Howard.

In the meantime, there appears to be a “feud” between D12 and TNT analyst Shaquille O’Neal. 

A feud? Really?

Comparisons are interesting, and they are part of what makes sports compelling to the fan.

Experts and fan alike wonder what it would be like to see the great players from different eras play each other. Perhaps in these dream scenarios we would know once and for all which athletes and teams are truly “the greatest.”

Apparently, Shaq believes that Andrew Bynum and Brook Lopez are better big men than Howard. In his mind they are more “true” centers.

If you want to do a side-by-side with Howard and Bynum, you can certainly make an argument for either one.

Brook Lopez?

Granted, Lopez is a good player. Most teams will take a center that gives them 19 points a game. Lopez does not pull down a lot of boards, but he is still a quality center.

What did Howard do last year? 20.6 points, 14.5 rebounds and 2.1 blocks. In other words, he did just fine in the middle.

Part of Shaq’s argument is that Howard is not necessarily a true back-to the-basket center. And? Howard is a different kind of center. Does that make him less effective?

I realize that Shaq spent his career pushing people out of the way and taking one drop-step before flushing the basketball. However, he was also blessed with extraordinary physical gifts. He was dominant, but ultimately unimaginative.

No one ever accused the Diesel of working too hard or developing aspects of his game.

For the Lakers, this season is about making one or perhaps two more runs at a title. It is not about the accomplishments of individual players; Kobe and Nash are not getting any younger and at some point they will not be able to play at an elite level.

Frankly, Shaq’s comments feel just a little petty. Maybe he is upset about the Superman thing? Perhaps the Big Aristotle is worried that his legacy with the Lakers will be forgotten. I find that unlikely unless Howard can also win several rings.

Shaquille O’Neal is now an analyst, which means that he is paid to give his opinion and be interesting on the air. However, he still needs to stay within the realms of reality—there is difference between outrageous comments and opinions that come across as personal.

There is, after all, only one Charles Barkley.

As noted by Howard, it is time to move on. It is time to start the season and see what this Lakers super-team can do.

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