Once the dust settled on the blockbuster trade that sent center Dwight Howard to the Los Angeles Lakers last month, a lot of current and former players were asked about the move that brought another superstar to the City of Angels to play alongside Kobe Bryant.
The initial reaction around the league and by NBA analysts was that the move has resulted in a serious power shift in the NBA with the Lakers potentially becoming the favorites to win the Western Conference next season. Not only are the Lakers quite possibly the best team in the West, but the team’s chances to win it all have vastly improved with only the defending NBA champion Miami Heat potentially standing in their way.
So far, Howard coming to L.A. in this deal has had mixed reactions. Most players believe it’s a brilliant move that will greatly improve the Lakers franchise with the end of Kobe’s career around the corner, and others believe Howard is a problem child that pouted his way to a better situation rather than staying with the Orlando Magic.
One former Laker great and future Hall of Famer that has been somewhat bitter about the “Dwightmare” and the end result is Shaquille O’Neal. Even though Shaq is set to be honored by his former team next season with a retired jersey set to hang in the rafters at Staples Center, the four-time NBA champion is showing Howard no love.
Shaq was recently interviewed by Rachel Whittaker of The Times-Picayune and was asked about his reaction after hearing Howard was traded to the Lakers:
“I don’t have a reaction. You have to care to have a reaction. I’ve got businesses to run. I always tell people that in order to step in my shoes you have big shoes to fill. For him, he’s going to have to at least win three to get people’s respect.”
For Howard, the pressure is on before he even sets foot on the floor in Los Angeles. Shaq has basically called out the Lakers newest superstar with a challenge of winning three or more titles in L.A. or he’ll fail to live up to his accomplishments as Kobe’s running mate.
Even though Shaq and former Lakers centers like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar have set the bar very high in terms of winning championships, Howard better be up to the task because the three-time NBA Finals MVP is right on the money with his comments.
It may appear like Shaq is attacking the man that has followed in remarkably similar footsteps with exactly the same nickname, but he’s got a point as Howard does have enormous shoes to fill and the only way to satisfy the fans and critics will be multiple titles.
In case you missed it – Dwight Howard talks about starting over in Los Angeles.