Shaquille O’Neal has never refrained from his criticisms regarding center Dwight Howard. On more than one occasion, Shaq has referred to Andrew Bynum and Brook Lopez as better centers than Dwight Howard. However, it seems as though Shaq has recently had a change of heart. On Tuesday, Shaq told the Los Angeles Times, “I love Dwight and I see his potential. Hopefully when I say these things he gets mad. Just think about it. At the dunk contest, he dunked on that thing when it was 15 feet. Remember that? OK, so why can’t you back people down [in the post]? Because if you think I didn’t play against great centers, he’s not playing against nobody, you know what I mean? So he should be able to back people down and jump-hook them to death. That’s why I envision in him as a player. Same thing Kareem [Abdul-Jabbar] did to me, the same thing Wilt [Chamberlain] did to me.”
O’Neal went on to self-reminisce by saying, “I can remember one time reading an article and I’m averaging 37 [points] in the playoffs and we lose and somebody asks Kareem, ‘Hey, what do you think about Shaq? He’s a great player.’ And Kareem says, ‘Yeah, he’s OK, but he hasn’t won any championships.’ I didn’t respond, I didn’t cry, I just stepped up and got to the next level. So I’m always going to stay on [Howard] because I actually see him being one of the best Lakers ever if he steps up.”
Why the sentimentality from Shaq all of a sudden? Shaq’s jersey happens to be retiring at the Staples Center Tuesday evening along with all of the other Laker greats and the last thing that Shaq wants to be viewed at is a Laker-Hater; something that Laker fans have enough of already.