Shaquille O’Neal admitted that he loves Dwight Howard as he tried to explain the complex relationship between the two former Los Angeles Lakers.
Shaq explains why he was tough on Dwight 👀
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) January 19, 2024
“If you’ve never been that good, and you’ve got a podcast now, and you’re talkin’ greasy, that’ll never be taken respectfully,” O’Neal said. “Like some of these kids with their podcast, I’m like, ‘Come on bro.’ I’m like, ‘Don’t talk like you was that guy.’
“I was that guy. I can talk like this. If I’m not that guy, I’m not gonna talk like I was that guy.
“If I mention your name, that means I love you and respect you. Like I used to love Dwight. He did something I couldn’t do. I wish I could jump that high. I love Dwight Howard. Other people don’t know that this my first time saying that.
“But as a big brother, I ain’t gonna let my little brother slide. ‘Cause I want you to be better than me. Sorta like a lot of people don’t understand this thing of ours they think it’s just hate. No, it ain’t hate. I’m tellin’ you how to get here. You know I’m here dawg. I’m tellin’ you how to get here. If you don’t wanna get here…and that’s why I kind of had to like lay off of him a little bit.”
The two Lakers champions have engaged in some spirited exchanges since their NBA playing days have ended.
Back in 2022, Howard expressed some confusion as to why O’Neal was continuing to hate on him. At the time, Howard said he had no issues with O’Neal and had tried to reach out to him to patch things up.
This past October, Howard again caused a stir by listing O’Neal as just the 10th best Lakers defender, with current star Anthony Davis at No. 1 and himself at No. 9.
Each of the men was the No. 1 overall pick in the NBA Draft by the Orlando Magic. O’Neal was selected with the top pick in 1992, while Howard was the first choice in 2004.
Based on their past interactions, perhaps O’Neal saw it as his duty or responsibility to spur Howard to greatness through some tough love. By raving about his admiration for his talent, O’Neal may have seen something in his younger counterpart that made him envious.
Both of the players fashioned lengthy NBA careers. O’Neal won three championships with the Lakers (2000, 2001 and 2002) and one with the Miami Heat (2006) and is considered one of the most dominant big men in NBA history.
Howard finally captured an elusive championship with the Lakers in 2020, further tying the two of them together. The 38-year-old has encountered some difficult personal times recently, including reportedly being sued this summer for assault and battery by a man he allegedly met on Instagram.
If Howard ever does somehow make it back into the league, it will be interesting to see what O’Neal may have to say about that.