As if the feud between Shaquille O’Neal and Dwight Howard hadn’t already been kicked into high gear after the blockbuster trade back in August, Shaq continues to stir the pot with comments about the Los Angeles Lakers recent superstar addition.
Reportedly, Shaq believes that the recently re-signed Brook Lopez of the Brooklyn Nets is better than the three-time Defensive Player of the Year according to Mike Mazzeo of ESPNNewYork.com:
“We as players, we always watch people before us. When I came in it was Patrick Ewing and Hakeem Olajuwon, guys who played like true centers who played inside. What we have now are centers that are going to the European style, which is a lot of pick-and-roll. Dwight Howard, who’s a pick-and-roll player, some people say he’s the best center in the league, but me being an old-school center, I’m going to go with Robin Lopez and Andrew Bynum because they play with their back to the basket.”
O’Neal is later asked if he meant Brook Lopez, not his twin brother, Robin.
“Brook. Same thing. They’re brothers.”
Last season, Shaq made his case for Bynum being a better all-around center in comparison to Howard and received a lot of criticism for it. Shaq’s main argument has been style opposed to numbers or consistency.
There’s no question that Howard isn’t the traditional center of old as he doesn’t play with his back to the basket like many other big men in the league have in the past. Bynum is one of the few that does along with Lopez, but that by no means means they’re better than Howard.
The traditional style of play at the center position may have worked for the great centers of the past, but this league and its players are always evolving and Howard may very well be the result of the evolution of the center position in the NBA.
Also, it’s hard to compare Howard with two other players at the same position that can’t stay healthy. Both Lopez and Bynum have often been on the sidelines with injuries and may never reach their true potential let alone be worthy of a comparison to a player that has been consistently productive and healthy.
Even though Howard’s playing status remains uncertain heading into next season as he continues to rehab from back surgery, Bynum is already set to miss the next three weeks for precautionary measures. Ironically enough, Howard may get back on the floor for the Lakers before Bynum makes his debut with the Philadelphia 76ers.