Dwight Howard has made his decision, and Shaquille O’Neal thinks his bolt for Houston was more of a retreat from Los Angeles.
The former Lakers legend called out Howard, saying he was ill-equipped to handle the pressure that came with playing in one of the NBA’s biggest markets.
“It was expected,” Shaq said. “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.”
Dwight Howard ignored quite a pitch by the Lakers in favor of the Houston Rockets. The Lakers employed Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash to try to convince Howard to stay, and reportedly even offered Dwight his own television show.
But in the end, Howard chose to give up the extra $30 million the Lakers were able to offer over other teams because he believed the Rockets gave him a better chance at winning a ring.
“I just looked at both teams and I felt like Houston was going in one direction — they got a lot of young players, they got a good coach in Kevin McHale and I just felt like having him as a coach, he could really help me in the post and help me develop like I want to,” Howard said in an interview with ESPNLosAngeles.com. “That was mainly the big reason right there, and having the opportunity to grow with a team, a young team, like the Rockets. That’s the reason why [I decided to leave].”
Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak was diplomatic about Howard’ departure, saying on the team’s website:
“Naturally we’re disappointed. However, we will now move forward in a different direction with the future of the franchise and, as always, will do our best to build the best team possible, one our great Lakers fans will be proud to support. To Dwight, we thank him for his time and consideration, and for his efforts with us last season. We wish him the best of luck on the remainder of his NBA career.”
Dwight Howard said he didn’t think Los Angeles was a bad place, just not the right fit for this point in his career.