Posted October 05, 2013

Dwight Howard responds to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s criticism

Dwight Howard, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
Dwight Howard

Dwight Howard walks past a photo of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar at the Staples Center last year. (Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)

Around this time last year, then-new Lakers center Dwight Howard praised Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and tweeted a photo of himself with the NBA’s all-time leading scorer with the words, “Me and @kaj33 together. For many years to come.”

Things are much different now: On Friday, the Rockets’ Howard was responding to the Hall of Fame center’s criticism of his game and basketball IQ.

Appearing Thursday on ESPN’s First Take, Abdul-Jabbar, who won five titles with the Lakers, had this to say about Howard, a three-time Defensive Player of the Year and seven-time All-Star who led the Magic to the 2009 NBA Finals and to four 50-win seasons before being traded to Los Angeles:

“Dwight is an extraordinary athlete. He has incredible athletic ability, but basketball is a game where the most important muscle you use on the court is the one between your ears. Dwight’s basketball IQ is not up to speed for him to be a dominant player. He has problems at both ends of the court. He doesn’t have a go-to move. I had to prepare Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum to play against Dwight in the playoffs in 2009 for the world championship. And it was an easy job, because if you take certain things away from him, he doesn’t have an answer for it. So he needs to develop some skills, at both ends of the court, that would enable him to consistently contribute to a winning effort. And he hasn’t done that.

“He’s a wonderful young man. He’s intelligent. He’s charismatic. He speaks well. But that doesn’t mean he has the ability to get on the court and do certain things consistently that would enable his team to win.”

Howard said Friday that his departure from the Lakers this summer factored into Abdul-Jabbar’s critique.

Howard ‘very upset’ with how free-agent decision was reported

“When I joined the Lakers, I was the greatest center,” he said, according to CSNHouston.com. “And then when I left, I was the worst; mentally, I wasn’t capable of playing center. I understand that a lot of things are said out of emotion, but I would say that if he has anything to say, I’m here in Houston. We can talk man to man. That’s how I feel about it.”

Howard added: “I’m in a great place right now. And there’s no need for me to go back and forth with him. The one thing I would say is that he’s old enough that whatever I do, doesn’t even matter to him.

“I mean, he’s Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. If I’m Kareem, I’m like, Why? Four championships, five championships, whatever. I’ve been in Airplane, did movies with Bruce Lee. I’m not worried about the young whippersnappers, you know. Just wish him good luck. But people do things different and when I’m done playing I’m going to do whatever I can to help the next generation get better.”

Howard also took issue with Abdul-Jabbar’s assessment of his basketball smarts.

“Well, you can’t win three Defensive Player of the Year trophies and be stupid,” he said, per CSNHouston.com. “It just doesn’t happen. … And I don’t think any coach that has ever coached me has ever said anything about me having a low IQ for basketball. Have I done some dumb stuff on the court before? Every player has. Have we all done something stupid in life? Yes. It’s life, we make mistakes, we learn from them. … I think I’m very intelligent when it comes to this game of basketball. I’ve been playing since I was 3 years old. I’ve seen a lot and each year I get smarter and better.”

22 comments
jacarant
jacarant

Howard's response to KAJ33 is just a confirmation of what Shaq said that the spotlights ( criticism, challenge, pressure ) in LA are just too bright for Howard to take. Let's see if he will make this an opportunity to prove himself and show he has grown up.

SynthiaRose
SynthiaRose

Wow. This reaction makes it sounds like Dwight has a low IQ in general -- not just in basketball. He's incapable of seriously addressing the specific points of criticism. Instead he exaggerates ... "now I'm the worst center?" (Kareem never said that) and speaks in dismissive generalities ("I'm not stupid." ..'"everybody does dumb stuff on court).   

Oh, and Kareem isn't  "worried" about you Howard. He's analyzing objectively. Dwight will never evolve if he's too sensitive to leverage insights. Kareem was quite balanced and diplomatic, so I'm not sure why Dwight is reacting as if he's bashing him wholesale.

Aloha!
Aloha!

Dwight has not reach his full ability because he can't make free throws. Centers around the league know this so they can afford to be more physical with him and that disrupts his thinking on the court. He has being defensive player of the year three times on pure natural ability and doesn't have to think,That is what KAJ WAS TRYING TO TELL HIM AND HE STILL DOESN'T GET IT. DUMMY

AaronDunckel
AaronDunckel

KAJ is totally accurate here - and there is nothing wrong with him saying what he said.  But there is also nothing wrong with DH's replies and comments. 

bambam824
bambam824

Dwight, your "decision" to leave a Championship organization shows your championship basketball IQ is lacking.

DAJS6
DAJS6

All the  things that Kareem said are true. And based on his response Dwight still has a lot of maturing to do. Dwight can't accept the facts, and the truth hurts. Like Kareem was not the first one who said that Dwight has no go to move and can't play with his back to the basket. And what does he think Kareem is doing by criticizing him? That is Kareem trying to help the next generation. Dwight needs to look beyond the criticism and think about what Kareem is saying. Those are the things Dwight needs to work on for him to get better.

To his credit Dwight did the right thing leaving the Lakers. Him and Kobe was never going to work out. And going to Houston in particular was good. Other than the Lakers the Rockets is the other team in the NBA with a long history of great centers. And with Kevin McHale and Hakeem Olajuwon you have the two best low post players in NBA history. Maybe Dwight can learn something from them.  

JoshJoel9
JoshJoel9

I saw the first take show where Jabbar made these comments, and his assessment was very weak and biased.  He seemed to be quite bitter over more than just the fact that Dwight left what he secretly still believes are his Lakers.


Look everyone knows that Dwight isn't the most offensively gifted big in the league but to any team in the league he's a sure fire upgrade at the 5, with the exception to maybe Indiana after Hibbert's past post season play.  


Everyone needs to just get over the fact that Dwight is no longer a Laker but a Rocket, and move on. Let's see what he does in Houston.

sbrown823
sbrown823

Three DPY came from the fact that Van Gundy is a great defensive coach who tweaked the defense to maximizes D12's ability.  Problem is, not many coaches have the expertise Van Gundy does at creating defensive schemes.

sbrown823
sbrown823

Methinks the Urkel protests too much.

gusCOYS
gusCOYS

Kareem is making a pretty accurate assessment of DH's abilities, and like the baby he is DH feels the need to talk back.  He should just shut up and do his talking on the court.  How about getting a post move or two, or raising your FT% ?

lionoah
lionoah

Howard should be challenging Lebron every single year for the championship one way or another. Can't really say Durant because a wing player affects the game differently. Athletically, only Lebron can approach him. Where he is missing the boat is in the skills department...

Kareem has sour grapes now, but with Dream teaching him he doesn't have any excuses anymore. He didn't listen to Ewing, KAJ didn't do anything for him in L.A. and now here is another one. WHen does he start playing with his back to the basket? When does he develop his unstoppable move? When does his game become more than the sum of his parts? I wouldn't say he is wasting his talent, but he is on the fast track to the dreaded 'underachiever' label.

DruovanniDefoe
DruovanniDefoe

I thought KAJ would have a little more class than that... He's a HOF'er, he should leave his negative opinions behind and start utilizing his high profile in Basketball to promote the game instead of criticizing and comparing players of different eras... I lost alittle respect for him... 

rjfwg@yahoo.com
rjfwg@yahoo.com

DH will never get a ring. Wilt if alive, Shaq and Kareem all think he does not have what it takes to be a great NBA Center. He is a high priced joke.


robert48
robert48

I watched KAJ during his entire career.  DH will never measure up to KAJ.  Watch the 09 finals again, DH was a non-factor in the series.

Jarahawk
Jarahawk

Wow!  I love Kareem.  Greatest basketball player of ALL TIME!  SIX NBA Championships!  THREE NCAA Championships and the NBA's all time leading scorer.  He's the captain, man.  Period.  But...he should have left this alone.  It's obviously sour grapes and unfair.

jacarant
jacarant

@SynthiaRose ...You are absolutely right. Howard just exposed himself more. I am not being judgmental but the way he takes KAJ33 words make people think he is a big guy with a small brain.

AaronDunckel
AaronDunckel

@bambam824  thats garbage... not every team is for everyone - sometimes you have to forge your own path instead of being on a team with people you dont like or respect. 

devarajaswami
devarajaswami

@Jarahawk 

Nah, just like Shaquille had comments to make about Howard, Kareem had some too.

They both feel that Howard's wasting his athletic potential. And they are suggesting ways for him to fix that. Both of them are saying similar things. Shaq said that Howard is not a dominant back to the basket player. Kareem is saying he does not have a go-to move.

Basically he can' score unless someone feeds him a dunk under the basket.

If Howard is smart, he will take what they say and follow their suggestions. If he is not smart, and the smart money is betting he is not, he will take their advice personally and continue down the same path.

My money says that Javale McGee under Brian Shaw has a better chance of living up to his potential than Howard under McHale. Unless he really listens to the Dream.


FredMacinsquash
FredMacinsquash

Right, sometimes a person has to get angry enough to change. MAGIC quietly improved his game during the off season and Dwight needs to do the same instead of using energy on personal ego issues. Bynam if he can get healthy learns fast, wish him yhe durabilty of Durant who has maybe more moves than anyone in the league.