Shaquille O’Neal knows a thing or two about winning.
The former NBA superstar collected four rings during his 19-year career—three with the Los Angeles Lakers and one with the Miami Heat—and believes that Dwight Howard will need to win at least three championships in order to live up to his legacy.
According to Rachel Whittaker of The Times-Picayune, the future Hall of Fame center didn’t care about the D12 drama that took place over the last year and doesn’t believe that Superman will get respect until he wins as many NBA Finals in L.A. as he did.
When the reporter asked what Shaq’s reaction was in regard to Howard’s trade from the Orlando Magic to Los Angeles, this is what the Big Aristotle had to say:
I don't have a reaction. You have to care to have a reaction. 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 to get people's respect.
While that is a bold claim, Shaq and Howard have followed an extremely similar career arc. If anyone knows what it takes to get respect in Hollywood, it’s the star of Kazaam.
Remember, O’Neal spent the first four seasons of his career with the Magic before jumping ship in the summer of 1996 to play for the Lakers.
It was there that he became one of the most popular figures in the league for both his force of personality and, more notably, the championships he brought to the city in 2000, 2001 and 2002.
O’Neal had great expectations hoisted upon his shoulders when he inked a seven-year, $121 million deal with the Purple and Gold and lived up to almost every single one of them.
Howard is now attempting to fill Shaq’s size 22s, and there is simply no way he can accomplish that lofty goal without helping Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash and Pau Gasol lead this superstar-studded squad to multiple Finals appearances and victories.
If the Lakers struggle in 2012-13, Howard—who held what seemed like a monopoly on NBA offseason rumors and reports—will take the majority of what promises to be unrelenting criticism.
Should the franchise find the success that it has become accustomed to, Howard will be a hero and savior—although one ring will not be enough in a town like Los Angeles.
Shaq is right on the money when he claims that D12 must raise at least three banners to become a true legend in L.A.