Shaq Says It's His 'Duty' To Push Dwight Howard's Buttons, Make Him Meaner

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Shaq Says It's His 'Duty' To Push Dwight Howard's Buttons, Make Him Meaner

Shaquille O'Neal pulled no punches during his playing days, and he has no plans of doing so as a broadcaster.

Whether due to their similar career paths or simply their shared position, O'Neal rarely passes up the opportunity to discuss Los Angeles Lakers free-agent center Dwight Howard. And Howard could be the first to tell you that those discussions are rarely never positive in nature.

It might seem like O'Neal is just piling on Howard (that has been a developing trend in hoops circles for the past few seasons after all), but the future Hall of Famer said during an appearance on ESPN L.A.'s 790 there's a reason behind those criticisms:

Elsa/Getty Images

For Howard to become the dominant big man that he has the size and skills to be, O'Neal said that he'll have to embrace the nastiness that comes with life in the NBA post. That means no more jokes, no more smiles, just a focused aggression whenever he sets foot on the hardwood:

This isn't the first time that Howard's apparent carefree attitude has been called into question, and it certainly won't be the last. And it's not an issue for Howard's own locker room but rather for that of the opposition:

Howard has the numbers to demand a defense's attention (career 18.3 points and 12.9 rebounds per game), but he rarely attacks his foes with the selfishness seen among many of the league's all-time greats.

O'Neal provided the blueprint for Howard to become one of those greats, but he cautioned that that's where his assistance would end. For Howard to fully realize the transformation that O'Neal and the rest of the basketball world is dying to see, that change will have to come from within:

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