Shaquille O’Neal was honored by the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday when his No. 34 jersey was retired, but the NBA legend had another big man on his mind.
Speaking to reporters on the night of his honor, Shaq said the the current Lakers squad needs Dwight Howard to step up if they want to win another championship.
“I hope they will but I’m a big-man guy,” O’Neal said. “The other guy needs to step into his own.”
It was clear that his reference was to Howard, who O’Neal has been critical of in the past.
“I would like to see him average 28 (points) and 10 (rebounds),” O’Neal said. “That’s the number that was thrown in my face, 28 and 10, so that’s the number I’m always going to throw in his face.”
Dwight Howard has had a somewhat difficult transition from stardom in Orlando to the bright lights and media spotlight of Los Angeles. He has endured some behind-the-scenes clashes with Lakers management and was called out by Kobe Bryant earlier this season for his slow return from an injury.
He has stepped up his play as of late as the team has found a more cohesive offensive attack.
Shaquille O’Neal knows something about finding his role. After leaving the Lakers to join the Miami Heat, he assumed a secondary role to Dwyane Wade while Kobe took over leadership of the Lakers.
“It wasn’t all about just because me and (Bryant),” Shaquille O’Neal said of the team’s dismantling when he went to Miami. “It was just the business of basketball. Luckily, for me the way I was raised, I’m used to doing something different every four years. So, I looked at it like I spent two military tenures here. I was in L.A. eight years. It was just time for me to do something else. It was time for Kobe to come into his own. It was time for me to go somewhere else.”