Posted July 06, 2013

Shaquille O’Neal: L.A.’s ‘bright lights’ were too much for Dwight Howard

Ben Golliver, Dwight Howard, Houston Rockets, Los Angeles Lakers, Shaquille O'Neal
(Aaron Davidson/WireImage for Getty Images)

Shaquille O’Neal won three rings with the Lakers. (Aaron Davidson/WireImage for Getty Images)

Brace yourself for a complete shock to the system: Shaquille O’Neal doesn’t think much of Dwight Howard’s decision to leave the Lakers and sign with the Rockets.

O’Neal, a four-time NBA champion who currently serves as an NBA analyst for TNT, told reporters at the Daytona International Speedway on Saturday that Howard is simply ducking the spotlight by taking his talents to Texas.

“The Dwight Howard thing, it was expected,” O’Neal said, according to the Associated Press. “We’ve all been in L.A., and not a whole lot of people can handle being under the bright lights. Everybody wants to do it, but when you get there, there are certain pressures. I think it was a safe move for him to go to a little town like Houston. That’s right, little town. I said it.”

Howard announced his plans to sign with the Rockets on Friday.

“I’ve decided to become a member of the Houston Rockets,” Howard wrote in a Twitter post. “I feel it’s the best place for me and I am excited about joining the Rockets and I’m looking forward to a great season. I want to thank the fans in Los Angeles and wish them the best.”

He leaves the Lakers after just one season, having been acquired from the Magic in a four-team trade last summer.

“We have been informed of Dwight’s decision to not return to the Lakers,” GM Mitch Kupchak said in a statement. “Naturally we’re disappointed.”

O’Neal signed with the Lakers as a free agent in 1996 and went on to win titles in 2000, 2001 and 2002 in LA.

The back-and-forth between O’Neal and Howard has gone on for a number of years. O’Neal has suggested that Howard’s post game is lacking, that Howard isn’t the best center in the NBA, and that Howard shouldn’t use the “Superman” nickname, which O’Neal used during his career.

Lakers guard Kobe Bryant, who teamed up with O’Neal for three titles, reacted to Howard’s decision by posting a photograph of himself with Lakers forward/center Pau Gasol on Instagram.

According to the 2010 census, Los Angeles was the United States’ second-largest city with a population of nearly 3.8 million. Houston ranked No. 4 with a population of nearly 2.1 million.

93 comments
scp1957
scp1957

Not sure why Los Angeles is referred to as a City. It's more like one of those large towns that grow up around a substantial military base, organized around what was once known as the "Film Colony". The Colony's residents, almost all of whom are more or less temporary, much as are those of any military base, provide the raison d'etre for pretty much everything else around about. Tacky strips of eateries and no-tell motels, even the high-end ones like the Hilton. The world's prettiest harlots, flocking there to chase gossamer dreams, mostly getting sticky and fat on cotton candy. A very few lonely buildings of any not, abandoned within a sea of endless tract housing. "There's no there, there," indeed.

YZLee
YZLee

This is the most dominant big man in the game today?  He was a no show in the playoffs.  For the most part he was held in check without double teaming by the Spurs backups!  Can you imagine what Shaq in his prime would have done to the Spurs backup centers?

0xfece5
0xfece5

I agree with everyone defending Houston and bashing Shaq to some degree, but his basic point is correct.  The pressure of playing basketball in LA is on another planet compared to playing in Houston.  It has nothing to do with population.

morgus
morgus

Giving the choice of staying with a team of cripple geriatrics with a mis-fit coach or a team of young, athletic players. The choice was not hard.  BTW - Houston is twice the size of Miami or San Antonio.

6marK6
6marK6

Did anybody else notice that this jagaloon made the statement while doing a press conference for the new movie he is in? What do you think, maybe trying to get yet more attention for himself?

Chacko
Chacko

Houston is a top 10 media market.  Regardless of how you want to interpret Shaq's comment, "little town" sounds stupid.

Horstradoomius
Horstradoomius

Yes Shaq, the fourth largest city in the U.S. at over 2.1 million people, is a town.

leehwgoc
leehwgoc

The truth behind the truth here is that certain people -- fans, players, media pundits, etc. -- are disturbed by Howard's decision simply because it defies the established NBA world-view that the Lakers are a destination-team.

Big stars simply aren't 'supposed' to one-and-done the Lakers, not when the Lakers themselves desperately want that player back, *and get rejected*.

It's going to be a new era for the Lakers now, and the new horizon isn't nearly as promising as what came before.  Buss (the good one) is gone forever, and players like Wilt, Magic, Kareem, and Worthy don't just grow on trees.  Phil Jackson was able to temporarily bring the Lakers back to royalty-status after that grim 90s era, but every bad decision the Lakers have made since Jackson quit the job has underscored the truth that it was Jackson who made the Lakers during that bounce-back period, not the other way around.

And speaking of that dark age during the 90s, that's precisely what the Lakers are heading back to now.  Dwight Howard's flaws are many and numerous, but getting away from the hyper-glorified but de facto dead-end future that is the Los Angeles Lakers here in 2013 is the correct decision for his career.

Ari1966
Ari1966

Best of luck to the Rockets and DH.  I believe DH will still not be able to deliver when it matters....last 2 minutes of the game.  BTW, Wilt's free throw percentage was 51%, but DH will never be mistaken for Wilt.

6marK6
6marK6

This was a cheap shot by Shaq, nothing more. Barkley had a much more educated take on it. I think Howard wants to win and the Rockets give him a much better chance of that.

decredico
decredico

Spot on.   

Howard is B list.

jojustinoxford
jojustinoxford

As long as LBJ is in Miami, every other NBA team will need 10 players on the court to Miami's 5 players, just to compete.  My point is Dwight to Houston is comparable to buck cluck giving chicken little a hug!

DwightSproull
DwightSproull

Little town?  As if that idiot Shaq could even find L.A. or NYC on a blank map of the U.S.  

Dennis28
Dennis28

First:  Dwight Howard was traded to LA Lakers - a team on the decline - with questionable ownership savvy.

Second:  That is Dwight's perrogative.  He was TRADED to this team - not by his choice. 

Third:   LA has lost it's identity and tried to retro-fit a hybrid Strong Forward/Center with a team that already has one Forward -Gasol.   They screwed up letting Odom leave.



Donnell
Donnell

This dude Shaq is the main reason Dwight wanted to leave the Lakers. Shaq talked about him like he was jealous dog from day one. He ran his mouth talking all this bulls**t about Dwight, I mean man, is was disgusting.  I lost a lot of respect for Shaq after that. he was talking about DH not being dominant like he was, he was saying DH is this or that, and I really don't blame DH for wanting to get out of the Laker hell hole.  Many in management should be replaced in lakers management, and Jerry West brought back. They let go of their dynasty team, basically because they have their foots stuck up their butts. I knew when they got rid of arriza, fisher, odom, farmar, etc for free, I knew it was basically over after one last season. The next 3 years will be losing seasons, disaster years, for the lakers team, all because of bad management.  

..m@vrick
..m@vrick

I think its time that Jim Bust , walks away from the Team. He is nothing like his dad and he is driving the Team in to the ground with no good options. Its time for Jeanie and Phill to remake the team with talented people 

WesVaughn
WesVaughn

It takes a team to win a title. Because Howard is not a team player and has proven to only care about Dwight Howard, I doubt if he will ever be on a team that wins a title. He is no Superman; but one big Super Baby.

OmaarAziz
OmaarAziz

California Big Men Centers Legacy..  

 
Kareem Abdul Jabbar = 6 Rings 
 
Shaquille O'Neal = 4 Rings  
 
Wilt Chamberlain = 2 Rings 
 

Howard Is Running From One Big Man Town To Another.. 
 
Texas Big Men Legacy .. 
 
1. San Antonio Spurs: Tim Duncan = 4 Rings  
 
2. San Antonio Spurs: David Robinson = 2 Rings  
 
3. Houston Rockets: Hakeem Alajuwon = 2 Rings  
 
4. Dallas Mavericks: Dirk Nowitzi = 1 Ring  
 
5. Dwight Howard = [0] Rings  
 
And That's For A Reason Too

Joseph9
Joseph9

@6marK6There are a lot of comments here that are all about whose favorite team Howard did or didn' jilt/go to, but not a lot considering this strictly from a basketball perspective. I'm not a fan of either, fwiw.

Houston had the NBA's youngest team last year and the Lakers the fouth oldest, so looking forward the Rockets' basketball upside sure looks much higher than LA's does at the moment, Howard notwithstanding. Kobe will undoubtedly come back successfully from his injury, but the Lakers still have a bunch of aging players. How much longer are Kobe, Nash, Gasol and Metta World Peace likely to be around?

D'Antoni is a brilliant offensive coach, but his teams have never been known for their defense, and that's always been Howard's calling card. While Houston wasn't much better than LA at defense last year, with an older team defense becomes even more of an issue. Here again Howard potentially has more of an impact on Houston.

With Harden and Parsons Houston has a lot of wing scoring, and that means more rebounds and put-backs for Howard, which fits his game (which I agree has limitations). This is a lot closer to the model where he had success in Orlando than is LA.

So all in all, getting all the hurt feelings aside, this seems like a completely defensible basketball move if Howard wants to play for a championship.

6marK6
6marK6

@jojustinoxford Shut up. If not for the biggest fluke in the world in Game 6 the Spurs would be champs this year.

decredico
decredico

@DwightSproull You miss the point.... he doesn't mean size or population ... he means Q factor ... and let's face itm he's correct ... Houston is a back water culturally and the press there isn;t nearly as intrusive as NYC or LA

If you think otherwise, you just a butt hurt fool.

RobertM
RobertM

@Dennis28 He approved and controlled each "trade". The Lakers have never had questionable savvy. You don't know what you are talking about dude. If you like Howard then so be it but don't make up stuff.  

decredico
decredico

@Donnell Butt hurt much?

Your position here is ridiculous.  Fact is, Howard under performed expectations and just did not make the grade in LA.

RobertM
RobertM

@Donnell Shaq was and remains accurate in his assessment of D Howard. Shaq said that Howard was not the better center skills wise of Bynum and Brook Lopez in a group with him and I agree with Shaq.   

JohnG
JohnG

@..m@vrick Phil doesn't remake teams. Call him if you teams needs therapy, not surgery.

Azeron
Azeron

@WesVaughn Sour grapes.  The Lakers wanted him desperately.  I wonder how Baby Biss and Mitch feel being spurned by that so-called "Super Baby"?  Lakers fans are pathetic.  This is the same fan base which had them winning the NBA Championship before a single game was played last off-season once the Lakers secured Nash and Howard last summer.  What's that you're tasting Laker brats?  Humble pie!  Eat up!

AaronDunckel
AaronDunckel

@OmaarAziz its about Teams not States... you compared one Team to 3 teams... not exactly apples and oranges

DwightSproull
DwightSproull

@decredico @DwightSproull Houston has this thing called Texas culture, and it's sort of famous around the world.  Do you know anyone who actually wants to move to L.A.?  Much like NYC and Miami, L.A. has a facade of cool covering a cesspool of humanity.  Shaq is still a moron, because he happily left L.A. to play in Cleveland and Miami, so I guess he couldn't handle the bright lights either.  

leehwgoc
leehwgoc

@RobertM @Dennis28 Dude, it's common knowledge that Howard wanted to be a Net, not a Laker.  Sure, Howard had some control in the trade, but that doesn't change the fact that the Lakers were never where he really wanted to be.  It was just something he settled for as a stop-gap measure, obviously.

Dennis28
Dennis28

@RobertM @Dennis28  

Actually, moron  -  I do not actually follow Dwight Howard  - prefer to watch more disciplined teams and players like San Antonio and their players.

Secondly, he had very little flexibility as the ego maniacs who own the teams make the true decisions.   Get a life and stop swimming in the river of denial idiot.

leehwgoc
leehwgoc

@decredico @Donnell Fact is, whatever subjective grade you say Howard earned last year, it was evidently still a high enough grade for Kobe and company to be crying now because Howard left them.

nd68
nd68

@decredico Do all your comments include "butt hurt?" Thesaurus. Look into it.

AaronDunckel
AaronDunckel

@JeremeeIam @Donnell DH never wanted to be in LA in the first place, your point makes no sense

thats like saying, you dont want to live in Siberia... so if you dont go, its because you can't "cut it" there... idiot

AaronDunckel
AaronDunckel

@Azeron @WesVaughn lol the Lakers are still the lakers... they will still be great and Houston will still be...Houston... when this is all over

The Dude
The Dude

@DwightSproull @decredico The big difference is that while LA may have a facade covering a cesspool of humanity, Houston doesn't even have the facade. It is straight-up an in-your-face cesspool.

AaronDunckel
AaronDunckel

@fabio.fantone

clearly your life is shallow and pathetic enough, that you maybe should do the world a favor...and move to houston

fabio.fantone
fabio.fantone

@DwightSproull @Brett Kos I would shoot myself if I had to leave L.A. and move to Houston to live for the rest of my life. Put that in your Texas pipe and smoke it.

dorado
dorado

@DwightSproull @dorado @decredico there are plenty of world class cities around the world whose citizens view not only texas as a joke, but most of the u.s..  i'm not a fan of LA, but texas is small time when it comes to culture.

DwightSproull
DwightSproull

@dorado @DwightSproull @decredico I live overseas as well, and people only make fun of Texas until you point out that they come from some crap city/state/country that doesn't even begin to compare favorably.  The world is full of stupid people though, and lots of them live in L.A.  

DwightSproull
DwightSproull

@Brett Kos @DwightSproull Actually, my main points are that Shaq is both ignorant, and a hypocrite, and that L.A. is a cesspool that isn't the destination it used to be, either as an NBA team or as a city.   I think that's pretty well established.  

dorado
dorado

@DwightSproull @decredico i spent 40 years of my life in texas, and grew up in houston.   i live overseas and travel all over.  texas "culture" is not world famous, in fact, it is made fun and stereotyped.

Brett Kos
Brett Kos

@DwightSproull He played 8 years in L.A.  You're not making any good points because you're so butthurt because you're from Houston.

Brett Kos
Brett Kos

@RobertM Who's the moron?  Youre second point was totally wrong.  You're making up points because you don't even know the situation and are chiming in your stupidity anyways.