One of the best stories for the Los Angeles Lakers this past season was the resurrection of Dwight Howard. At one point the most hated player in the league among Lakers fans, Howard returned to the franchise a much different man and was crucial towards the team’s championship.
After finally winning his first NBA championship, Howard was understandably emotional and gave a heartfelt speech on his Instagram. Howard received a positive response from fans and other players throughout the NBA, but Lakers legend Shaquille O’Neal was not part of that.
O’Neal has remained critical of Howard even after winning a title, most notably saying he did not do enough to earn the championship.
Howard recently appeared on “The Rematch” hosted by Etan Thomas and expressed some surprise at O’Neal’s comments, saying he has no clue why O’Neal continues to criticize him:
“I have no clue. What’s crazy is when I first got to the team me and JaVale were talking to each other like, ‘Yo, did you do something to Shaq?’ And he was like, ‘Bro, I don’t know, man. He’s always talking about us.’ I’m like, ‘Yeah, man he is. Man, let’s jump him.’ And we just laughed. I just realize you can’t please everybody. Everybody is not going to be happy with you or what you’re doing with your life. The way you kill them is with kindness instead of going back and forth with him. Growing up watching Shaq, I was happy because he was a big man and he was killing everybody. I still think he’s probably the most dominant player to ever play the game.”
Regardless, Howard refused to return the favor towards O’Neal, instead taking the high road:
“If I had anything negative to say about him, I won’t ever say it in the public eye or say it where people can hear it, because I don’t think it’s necessary. He has family, has kids and has people who love him. I just wasn’t brought up that way. I respect him for all the work he’s done. I wish we could play each other again so I could end this beef, but I have a lot of love for him and what he’s done for the sport. The way to beat him is continue to play at a high level and not allow anything that’s negative seep into my ears and just stay focused.”
Many years ago the two did seem to have some issues with one another, dating back to when O’Neal was still an active player. The thought among many was that it started because Howard began being referred to as ‘Superman’ the nickname Shaq carried throughout his most dominant years.
Howard has said over and over that he is in a different stage in his life and these comments are proof of that. Maybe at an earlier time Howard would have engaged in a back-and-forth with O’Neal, but these days he is focused solely on his game on the court and not the negativity off it.
Miscommunication between Lakers, Howard in free agency
Despite widespread reports indicating mutual interest between Howard and the Lakers, he wound up signing a one-year contract with the Philadelphia 76ers. But that curiously came after Howard tweet about re-signing with the team, which was then deleted.
That has since been explained as Howard misinterpreting early negotiations between the two sides.
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