From who the real ‘Superman’ is to ‘who’s the better center in the NBA?’, the two have had more than a little to say about each other. Frankly, Shaq has been the one doing more of the provoking. Though his aggression towards Howard seems relatively passive at best, there’s something to be said when Dwight becomes your third choice as Center.
On NBA TV’s “Open Court”, Shaq, now an analyst (of sorts) said that Howard would be his third choice as the 5-spot, behind Andrew Bynum and Brook Lopez. There has been some leeway for the Bynum argument, with the now Sixers big putting together a stellar season averaging 18.7 ppg and 11.8 rpg. The assertion that Brook Lopez would be picked first is a more interesting one. Now, Shaq was clearly making his opinion known here, meaning there wasn’t necessarily any wrong answer so long as something supported his reasoning.
Looking at Lopez’s 2010-2011 year (only played 5 games last season), the Nets’ Center put in a high-caliber campaign. He averaged 20 ppg, 6 rpg, and 1.5 bpg. Great as those numbers are, Howard’s figures dwarf them, particularly in the rebounding area (14.5 rpg to Lopez’s 6).
Now, comparing Lopez and Howard, and therefore technically taking Shaq seriously, may seem like a waste of time. After all, how much data would you really need to make a decision between Brooke Lopez and Dwight Howard?
Instead, the reason I went and put those numbers up only after reading this:
“We, as players, we always watch people before us. For me it was Patrick Ewing, Hakeem Olajuwon, guys who played as true centers inside. What we have now is centers going to the European style, which is a lot of pick and roll. Me, being an old school big man, I am going to go with Brook Lopez and Andrew Bynum.”
The fact that Shaq would pick Lopez over Howard doesn’t bother me as much. It shouldn’t bother anyone all that much, really. This is a sport where one single individual can win a game, entirely on their own. So, on the basis of individual comparisons, players can very easily be polarizing in perception.
What comes across as disingenuous is the Diesel’s classification of Lopez as an “old school” center. That’s something I can’t quite get my head around. Howard hits the glass more than practically any big not named Kevin Love. Lopez, always somewhat underachieving at that aspect of the game, had his career high 8.6 rpg back in the 2009-2010 season. If anything, with both players at about 7 feet tall, Howard comes across as the more “old school” big.
To note, Howard responded in kind:
“I don’t care what Shaq says. Shaq played the game; he’s done. He’s done. It’s time to move on. He hated the fact that when he played, the older guys were talking about him and how he played. And now he’s doing the exact same thing. Just let it go.”
Howard also had a suggestion for the Big Aristotle:
“Like I said, he has already did his thing. He played. 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 to where I’m at. I think that’s what guys who have done it before us should do.”
Mohamed Abdihakim is a journalism student at Florida Atlantic University. He is a Phoenix Suns fan, who is not prepared for the possibility of Nash winning a title in a Lakers jersey. Mohamed is also a contributor at “Les Snobs”. Interests include International basketball, Mad Men, and blues music. Nearly all stats are credited to Hoopdata or Basketball-Reference.
Twitter handle: @Abdi_hakim