Shaquille O’Neal, ever the critic of Dwight Howard since Howard “stole” his Superman moniker, had some strong words for Howard coming to L.A.. It’s not going to be a cakewalk, indeed it’s going to be a huge challenge. From USA Today:
“The pressure that he has been feeling in Orlando has just multiplied by three now,” O’Neal said in comments released by TNT. “The first thing the great Jerry West did when I signed with the Lakers is he walked me into the Forum and told me to look up. He showed me all the great big men that played before me and how many championships they won. The Lakers have a tradition of having great big men. He has a lot of work ahead of him. If he thinks the Orlando Sentinel was on his case when he didn’t perform, guys like (Los Angeles Times columnist) Bill Plaschke, they don’t play.”
via Shaq, Barkley talk Dwight Howard – USATODAY.com.
O’Neal knows something of the pressure to win and has always been proud of the success he had in L.A. winning three titles. It certifies him, validates him. Howard stands in position to challenge that with the core he’s surrounded by. O’Neal was also a hugely popular cultural figure, far more than Howard, and was able to woo reporters with his charm and quotes. Howard faces a tougher approach in getting the public back on his side, but if you peruse the L.A. Times this morning, you’re going to find a whole lot of softball yogurt about the Lakers’ acquisition of Howard. It’s only if they struggle that things would turn.
Watching O’Neal cover this development on TNT will be interesting, if only because of how much he’s following in O’Neal’s footsteps, whether he likes it or not.
I don’t envy Rob Hennigan.
Here’s your dream job, you are the new general manager of the Orlando Magic. Now all you have to do is trade our superstar center and try to get some reasonable level of value back, hire a new head coach, start a massive rebuilding project and chart a totally new direction for the organization.
To quote Miracle Max, “have fun storming the castle.”
And all the while, you can count on taking fire from fans and media. Because the Dwight Howard situation has dragged out past its prime worse than “Grey’s Anatomy.” And because the coaching search is still ongoing, down to three candidates.
Former Magic big man Shaquille O’Neal tweeted he is none to impressed.
It’s Shaq, so on one level you can pretty much disregard this as you might most of his opinions. But what he is saying here echoes what you hear around the league. The clear frontrunner for the Magic job is former NBA player Jacque Vaughn, who has been a Spurs assistant coach the last two years. That’s the start of a nice pedigree. But it’s far less experience than guys like Brian Shaw and Mike Malone, both of whom deserve a shot soon. Nobody is quite sure what the Magic are doing on any front.
But Hennigan is the guy who has to live with his decision, so he needs to make the one that he is most comfortable with. And he knows full well he has to live with the consequences, also.
It was the conventional wisdom at the time that if the Lakers had won the 2004 NBA title — they lost in the finals to the Detroit Pistons and their stifling defense — that Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal would have stuck it out together to chase more titles. The “winning cures all ills” theory.
Kobe says not so fast.
Speaking with Yahoo’s Graham Bensinger in a must-watch interview for Kobe fans, the star said it was over when he heard chatter out of Shaq’s camp that Kobe couldn’t win without Shaq.
“It just wasn’t going to work. It wasn’t in the cards,” Bryant said. “There’s things that I wanted to do with my career and take my career to another level, that I was just incapable of doing as long as we were playing together….
“It just wasn’t going to work, so no matter what happened, even if we had won that championship, me being a free agent, there was just no way.”
Kobe took — and in some quarters still takes — some grief for breaking up those Lakers. But the fact is what Kobe did because he had the hammer of free agency was exactly what Shaq would have done if he had that hammer. They were done with it. Phil Jackson couldn’t keep them together. So Buss made the only logical choice and traded Shaq, convincing Kobe to re-sign. You always choose the younger player with the better work ethic and who took better physical care of himself.
Kobe also sounded sympathetic to the place Jackson was in with that three-peat team.
“The relationship between me and Shaq,” Kobe said. “Him having to deal with that relationship and kind of keeping me at arm’s distance so that, in turn, it can bring him closer to Shaq. And he was dealing with a young racehorse that wanted to get to an elite level very fast… we all three are very stubborn. “”
Kobe said his relationship with Jackson needed to be repaired when Phil came back to the Lakers. It was a matter of communication styles.
“I said, ‘Phil, if you want me to do something, just tell me.’” Kobe said. “He kind of likes subtly slipping messages in there. Where, for me, it’s like just tell me what it is you want. Don’t insult my intelligence by trying to backdoor in there.”