With Dwight Howard prepared to make his return to Orlando on Tuesday night after spending the first eight seasons of his career as a member of the Magic, it’s just one more similarity between Howard and the former NBA center Shaquille O’Neal. The story is well known, as Shaq and Howard were both centers with the Magic who led their team to the NBA Finals before departing Florida for Los Angeles and the Lakers. Howard will get his first opportunity to play as a visiting player in Orlando tonight, so his numbers are obviously yet to be determined.
O’Neal’s first game against the Magic came on Feb. 22, 1998, as Shaq’s Lakers took on the Magic in the now-defunct Amway Arena. Let’s take a look at the Lakers’ box score from that game. Shaq had a decent game (by his standards) in his Orlando return, scoring 20 points and snagging 10 rebounds. Unfortunately for O’Neal, his Lakers fell to the Magic 96-94 after the Magic’s Nick Anderson hit a three-pointer with just seven seconds remaining in the game.
So how will Howard’s return to Orlando compare to Shaq’s? We’ll see tonight when the Lakers face the Magic at the Amway Center.