Greg M. Cooper-US PRESSWIRE
Dwight Howard has been building lots of good will lately, with Los Angeles Lakers fans eager to see him get make his triumphant (and healthy) return to the floor.
Too bad that good will doesn't extend to former Lakers.
Now an analyst for TNT, Shaquille O'Neal made a perfectly reasonable—albeit entirely contrarian—argument for centers Andrew Bynum and Brook Lopez being better than the more esteemed Howard (via ESPN Los Angeles' Dave McMenamin):
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.
Shaq admitted later that he meant to say Brook Lopez, Robin's brother.
Of course, you don't have to agree, but it is Shaq's job to, you know, analyze things like this. And as one of the game's all-time great centers, his perspective on the question at hand is especially valuable.
Howard didn't see it that way, apparently balking at the notion that anyone would prefer another center's style of play (which is really all Shaq did, regardless of whatever motives you want to derive from those sentiments).
So after practice on Thursday, Howard had this to say (again via McMenamin): "I don't care what Shaq says. Shaq played the game. He's done. He's gone. It's time to move on."
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. 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.
Talking trash? I've always wondered what players muttered to one another when running back down the court jawing back and forth. Who knew it was things like: "Well, I consider you more of a European style, pick-and-roll center really—a step below the more traditional, back-to-the-basket sort."
No, Shaq was not talking trash at all. He was just having an opinion—what he's paid (and entitled) to do. It may have been biased, but most opinions are.
Howard acts like he's above the fray, reiterating that he doesn't care as if the more times he says so, the truer it becomes. But if he really didn't care, he wouldn't say anything. After watching this guy spend an entire year ruining his image, you'd think someone would let him in on that whole "no comment" trick.
Plead the Fifth, Dwight—or, in your words, "Just sit back and relax."