Lakers center Dwight Howard fires back at Shaq

Shaquille O’Neal and Dwight Howard collided verbally on Thursday. It was a predictably messy landing.

Howard was not thrilled with O’Neal’s assertion that Philadelphia’s Andrew Bynum and New Jersey’s Brook Lopez were better centers.

“I don’t care what Shaq says,” Howard said flatly after Lakers practice Thursday. “Shaq played the game and he is done. It’s time to move on. He hated the fact when he played that older guys were talking about him and how he played. 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. Sit back and relax. Your time is up.”

It might be just a bit awkward when O’Neal gets his Lakers jersey retired at halftime of an April 2 game at Staples Center. Howard said he would not try to patch anything up with O’Neal before them.


“What do we need to be on the same page for?” Howard said. “I have respect for him and what he did for basketball. That’s it. When my time is up, there’s going to be somebody else who can do everything I can do and probably do it better. Instead of me talking about him, I’ll do my job to try to help him get where I’m at. I think that’s what guys who have done it before us should do.”

O’Neal has jabbed Howard in the past, though it was curious this time to put him in line behind Bynum, an All-Star for the first time last season, and the light-rebounding Lopez, who has never been an All-Star. Howard has played in six All-Star games.

O’Neal, however, made a point of making Bynum one and Lopez two on his list of the game’s top centers.

“I’m not talking about dunking, I’m talking about playing like a big man with moves,” O’Neal, a TNT analyst, told NBA TV. “My man [Lopez], before he had the foot injury, was putting up nice, solid big-man numbers. He don’t have a lot of flash, a la Tim Duncan, but he can play. If you put him with a nice team around him, you can get a lot from this big man. Like if you want to go to flash and dunking and the pick and roll, you gotta go with Dwight Howard. But me, the last true original dun duda, I’m going with Andrew Bynum and [Lopez].”

“Dun duda” is slang for the best.

Lopez has career averages of 17.4 points and 7.5 rebounds in parts of four NBA seasons. He missed almost all last season with a stress fracture in his right foot. Howard has career averages of 18.4 points and 13 rebounds.

Howard has gradually added to his workload since undergoing back surgery in April to repair a herniated disk.

He took part in a five-on-five scrimmage Thursday, though with a restriction. It was actually five-on-five-on-five, with two of three teams rotating on the court, providing Howard time to rest.

He took some contact after getting fouled by undrafted rookie center Ronnie Aguilar and also dunked after a touch pass from Pau Gasol.

He will not play Sunday against Golden State in the Lakers’ exhibition opener but is expected back for the Oct. 20 season opener against Dallas.


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