Shaquille O’Neal has taken plenty of shots at Dwight Howard over the years, so when the free agent center left the Lakers after one season and chose to sign with the Houston Rockets, we shouldn’t have expected anything less.
O’Neal was a grand marshall for a NASCAR race at the Daytona International Speedway on Saturday, and when asked to comment on Howard’s decision, he didn’t let the opportunity to get another jab in slip away.
“It was expected,” O’Neal said. “We’ve all been in L.A. and not a 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.”
Shaq’s history of negatively commenting on Howard at every turn clearly makes him anything but an unbiased observer, here. But to a certain extent, O’Neal is absolutely right.
Howard was never able to handle the championship-or-bust situation he was thrown into last season, playing on a theoretical super-team alongside Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, and Steve Nash. When the injuries began to mount and the losses soon followed, Howard quickly tired of answering questions about when and how the team with so much talent would be able to turn things around.
Even as the Lakers began to right the ship in the second half of the season before Bryant went down with the Achilles injury, the 28-12 run the team went on to close the year out still wasn’t enough to make the scrutiny disappear.
For better or worse, there won’t be anywhere near that type of pressure to win in Houston. Watching Howard and the way he failed miserably to handle it during his only season in Los Angeles, there’s no question that the expectations of playing for one of the league’s most storied franchises was not something he wanted any part of dealing with for the foreseeable future.
The FIBA Hall of Fame (not to be confused with the Basketball Hall of Fame, which is not to be confused with the NBA Hall of Fame, which doesn’t exist) enshrined Hakeem Olajuwon and David Stern in its 2016 class.
Olajuwon won a gold medal with Team USA in the 1996 Olympics. A Nigeria native, he has helped promote basketball in Africa.
After growing the sport’s popularity stateside, Stern pushed to globalize basketball as NBA commissioner.
The full list of 2016 inductees:
Panagiotis Fasoulas (Greece)
Hakeem Olajuwon (Nigeria/USA)
Manuel Raga (Mexico)
Juan Antonio San Epifanio (Spain)
Michele Timms (Australia)
Jorge Canavesi (Argentina)
David J. Stern (USA)
The over-riding objective of the Hall of Fame is to reflect the history of the sport.
The honour may be awarded posthumously.
The key conditions for induction to the FIBA Hall of Fame are:
• Outstanding achievement at the international level from a personal effort or initiative
• Having contributed to the performances of players, technical officials, coaches, and administrators or to the global development of basketball.
Olajuwon and Stern seem to fit the bill.
Now, if only there were a Hall of Fame that appropriately recognized NBA achievements.
Blake Griffin reportedly doesn’t want to leave Los Angeles when his contract is up next summer. This is a guy who has done stand up, is executive producer of a television show, and is generally loving the perks of living in Los Angeles.
Still, the dream lives on in Oklahoma City that he will come in and be the next star there and pair with Russell Westbrook.
Griffin was back in his native Oklahoma for alumni weekend with the OU basketball team, and he heard the sales pitch.
Griffin blows this off, just like he is going to try to blow off the dozens and dozens of reporters who will ask him about his summer plans during the season.
But he has to know the recruiting pitches are coming all season, especially when he visits OKC.
Ty Lawson said that wherever he signed, “they’re going to get me for cheaper than I feel I’m worth … I feel like I’m overlooked in free agency.”
That lucky team — at least in Lawson’s mind — is the Sacramento Kings.
They have reached a one-year deal with him, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.
Lawson bounced between Houston and Indiana last season, and struggled at both stops — he shot 39.3 percent last season with a far wbelow replacement lever PER of 9.7. He was better in Indiana than Houston.
Lawson also brings the baggage of a couple of DUIs in recent years and a reputation as a partier — including showing up to practice with alcohol on his breath. That hurt is free agent prospects, and is something Lawson denied to The Undefeated.
But I’m not a person out here like everyone thinks that I’m drunk all day. No, I don’t do that. A lot of my friends, we go out and celebrate. But I’m not that person in the morning getting drunk before practice. I think there is a big misconception about what everybody thinks. That’s what I basically tell them. I keep it honest.
The Kings will start Darren Collison at the point, but Lawson should get a decent run as a backup. Lawson is a solid playmaker and has a spot up shot, when he is right.
What the 28-year-old Lawson also will get is another chance — he hasn’t impressed in his past few stops and if that doesn’t change his NBA career could end soon.
There are 1,230 NBA games in a season, and decent amount of those come down to which team executes better in a close game late. (By the way, the best teams don’t win the most close games, the best teams have the most blowouts and aren’t in as many close games.)
What that means is there are a lot of game winners, a lot of clutch shots every season. The folks at NBA.com compiled them for you, and what else do you have to do on a Sunday night but watch 13 minutes of them.
Yes, there is plenty of Stephen Curry and Russell Westbrook in this one, but the clutch shot of the season belonged to Kyrie Irving.