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DALLAS – The NBA’s new Superman is tired of the trash-talking from the previous Man of Steel.
Shaquille O’Neal(notes) taunted Dwight Howard(notes) after the Cleveland Cavaliers’ victory over the Orlando Magic on Thursday, telling reporters, “You tell me who the real Superman is? Don't compare me to nobody. I'd rather not be mentioned. I'm offended.”
Having heard enough from O’Neal since last season, the often playful Howard turned serious when asked Friday about Shaq’s words.
“Do I find it humorous? No I don’t,” Howard said. “Coming from somebody like him, I just wouldn’t expect something like that or for somebody to do that. There is nothing I can do about it. He said what he had to say. It didn’t sit too well with me.”
After losing to Orlando in last season’s Eastern Conference finals, Cleveland traded for O’Neal to help them better match up with Howard. The rivalry between the two centers gained steam last season when O’Neal accused Howard of stealing his Superman nickname and added that he “invented” everything Howard had done. O’Neal also took shots at Magic coach Stan Van Gundy, labeling his former Miami coach as the “Master of Panic.” During the NBA Finals, O’Neal posted a rather unflattering picture of what he said the “love child” of Howard and Van Gundy would look like.
While Howard says he respects O’Neal’s career, he wishes Shaq would be more of a mentor to him than a trash-talker.
“I just felt like Shaq being who he is with what he’s done for the NBA, me being a young player trying to get where he is at, I just felt like it would be better for him to try to get me there instead of trying to bring me down, especially in front of you [media] guys,” Howard said. “That part stuck with me. I would never talk bad or say anything to put him down. I think that he’s a great person. He’s done a lot of great things for the NBA and his community.”
So who owns the Superman nickname?
Kobe injury update
Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant is still uncertain when he will return to action from a sprained left ankle injury that is causing him to miss Sunday’s All-Star Game.
Bryant said he is receiving treatment “around the clock” for his ankle. He said his back is fine and there is nothing he can do about his broken right index finger. Bryant, who missed the Lakers’ last three games leading into the break, will receive a minimum 10 days rest because of the layoff. It will be the first time he hasn’t participated in an All-Star Game since his rookie season in 1997.
Bryant believes the layoff will be a blessing in disguise, adding that the Western Conference-leading Lakers are “right where they want to be.”
“I’ll definitely be healthier than I was the last game, so that’s a plus,” Bryant said. “I won’t have to limp around. I won’t have to play with a lot of shortcuts. I can play with a lot of energy like I was used to playing at the start of the season.
“People make too much of this whole ‘warrior’ thing. It’s kind of silly. If it’s an injury that can get better while I continue to play, I’ll continue to play. If it won’t, I can’t.”
Celtics better off intact?
The Boston Celtics have entertained offers for Ray Allen(notes) leading up to Thursday’s trade deadline and a league source told Yahoo! Sports that Rasheed Wallace(notes) is on the trading block, too. But instead of looking for a quick fix, the Celtics’ All-Star trio of Rajon Rondo(notes), Paul Pierce(notes) and Kevin Garnett(notes) believe they should let the team heal and regain its swagger.
“I play with these guys every night and I’m happy with where we are at,” Garnett said. “We have to be more consistent with how we are playing. But I wouldn’t change anything.”
Said Pierce: “We can win a championship with the team put together right now. Once we get KG a little healthier and once I get back to 100 percent, we’ll be able to hit our stride and get more practice time in. People don’t understand. We haven’t had a lot of practice time over the last month because we’ve had a lot of injuries and played a lot of games on the road. Doc [Rivers] is one of those coaches that believe in rest. It’s a thin line between the two because you want to get rest, but at the same time we need the practice time. We will be able to get that in second half because there are not as many games.”
Nuggets extend Karl’s contract
Denver Nuggets coach George Karl signed a one-year contract extension that will keep him in Denver through the 2010-11 season and pay $4.5 million, according to a source close to the negotiations.
“I don’t want to be a distraction,” Karl said. “It’s kind of annoying talking about it for me. I think [owner] Stan [Kroenke] and I got together with the situation with the world of basketball right now and it’s a good thing for me and a good thing for the Nuggets. We’ll do just one more year and figure it out after or this summer rather than getting into argument, anger, frustration and pointing fingers. All those things could’ve happened. It’s a good solution.”
Signing just a one-year extension will cause Karl to face the same contract questions next season, too.
“I’m not afraid of a year contract,” Karl said. “I guess I’ve been on the last year of a contract this year and it hasn’t affected me much. Stan has rewarded me to the point where I’m very satisfied and very happy with it. I have a team that’s a pretty good team and I think our window is at least this year and next year to try to win it. I’m happy that I will get an opportunity to win my 1,000th game in Denver, which is something that I’ve wanted to do. And I love Denver.”
Bosh not homesick
Toronto Raptors forward Chris Bosh(notes) has returned to his hometown of Dallas for the All-Star Game. But don’t think Bosh’s Texas ties – or Dirk Nowitzki(notes) – will help the Mavericks lure him when he’s a free agent this summer.
“Dirk is here. This is Dirk’s team. We play the same position,” Bosh said. “That’s always going to be a clash.
“Being close to home, I don’t know if that’s the best thing. I don’t know. I’m a lot more mature now. But it’s a whole different distraction than being able to play somewhere else.”
The NBA’s competition committee met for about 5½ hours on Friday with “nothing major” coming out of it, a source said. One possible change: Officials will be able to review out-of-bounds plays during the last two minutes of regulation and the full overtime period. Currently, it’s the last two minutes of regulation and last two minutes of overtime.
Yahoo! Sports NBA columnist Adrian Wojnarowski also contributed to this report.