Shaquille O’Neal played in the NBA from 1992 until 2011, he played for the Los Angeles Lakers from 1996 to 2004, and he’s been acting like a petulant brat when asked about players he doesn’t like from 1992 until ???.
Really, it starts with David Robinson and Alonzo Mourning, it continued with Kobe Bryant and Chris Bosh, it’s kept up with Dwight Howard and will no doubt go on for the next player O’Neal feels uneasy being compared to.
O’Neal commented on Howard’s free-agent departure to the Houston Rockets on Saturday while making an appearance at the Daytona International Speedway. From the Associated Press:
''It was expected,'' Shaq said. ''We've all been in LA, and not a whole lot of people can handle being under the bright lights. Everybody wants to do it, but when you get there, there are certain pressures. I think it was a safe move for him to go to a little town like Houston. That's right, little town. I said it.''
It should be noted that O’Neal was at the event to promote the movie “Grown Ups 2,” and apparently the concept of irony.
We should mention that Houston remains the fourth-largest city in the United States, with some five times the population of the city of Miami, a town Shaquille O’Neal forced a trade to in 2004.
It’s true that Howard did not respond well to the pressure in his first year in Los Angeles, he battled a back injury and shared plenty of cross glares in public at Bryant, Steve Nash and the coaching staff. We should also remind that it took Shaquille O’Neal four seasons to win his first ring in Los Angeles upon leaving Orlando in 1996, as Shaq clashed with twice as many teammates and two sets of coaching staffs.
It’s also true that this is the “safe move” for Howard, moving away from an aging, injured, and ill-fitting Laker lineup and a coach that clearly did not know what to do with two potential high- and low-post demons in Pau Gasol and Dwight Howard. The Rockets nearly matched Los Angeles’ win total last year without Howard and they’re a much younger team that isn’t finished exchanging assets and building around Dwight. Yeah, safe and smart move, Dwight Howard. The right move.
Dwight Howard handled the overwhelming bulk of this Orlando-to-Los-Angeles-to Houston run terribly. He has much to learn from and a lot of growing to do, and this well-researched and thought-out (and communicated, unlike LeBron James’ last free-agent dalliance) decision is a step in the right direction.
He’ll never be as great as Shaq at one thing, though. Acting like a brat in public.