Shaquille O’Neal is one of the greatest big men to ever play the game of basketball. He’s proven himself to be goofy and says outlandish things, but when it comes to the centers, he’s earned a certain amount of credibility through his play and success at the position. But, when Shaq says that Brook Lopez is better than Dwight Howard, it’s hard to discern if O’Neal is being outlandish or serious.
Howard is arguably the best center in the game right now and Lopez is a little known center despite having averaged 20 points a game for a full season. In fact, the Brooklyn Nets were shopping Lopez as the main piece in acquiring D12 from the Orlando Magic multiple times during the past year, but it never worked out and Howard was traded to the Los Angeles Lakers during the offseason.
Lopez surely has some value and undeniable ability, but better than Howard? Offensively, I may agree, but defensively? There’s no way anyone can say that D12 isn’t the best at his position when healthy. However, here’s what Shaq had to say about it, including mixing up Brook for his twin brother Robin Lopez:
“We as players, we always watch people before us. When I came in it was Patrick Ewing and Hakeem Olajuwon, guys who played like true centers who played inside. What we have now are centers that are going to the European style, which is a lot of pick-and-roll. Dwight Howard, who’s a pick-and-roll player, some people say he’s the best center in the league, but me being an old-school center, I’m going to go with Robin Lopez and Andrew Bynum because they play with their back to the basket.”
The old school point of view is a valid case. However, when making an argument or when trying to prove a point, please get a player’s name right, Shaq! More Shaq comments:
“Listen to what I’m saying. I’m not talking about dunking, I’m talking about playing like a big man with the moves. My man, before he had the foot injury, was putting up nice, solid big man numbers. He don’t have a lot of flash, a la Tim Duncan, but he can play. If you put him with a nice team around him, you can get a lot from this big man. Like if you want to go to go to flash and dunking and the pick and roll, you gotta go with Dwight Howard. But me, the last true original dundaughta (slang for big timer), I’m going with Andrew Bynum and which Lopez? Brook. Brook Lopez.”
Both Andrew Bynum and Lopez are definitely more classic type of centers and as an old school guy myself, I can definitely see and relate to Shaq’s point. However, I can appreciate what Dwight Howard does on the floor myself because it’s an athletic game nowadays. And there’s isn’t a more athletic center in the Association than Howard. He’s earned the props he’s received, without question. Although, Lopez should feel really good with the comparison to Tim Duncan. However, the accolades don’t stop there from Shaq:
“Classy guy,” O’Neal said, referring to Lopez. “You’ll never hear about him getting in trouble. Great moves, great composure, and you’re really not going to faze him. A couple guys will probably try to rough him up, but that’s not going to faze him. Good player. Good player.”
Brook Lopez is a nice player, but better than a healthy Dwight Howard? Sorry, Shaq, but even though Howard stole your idea and has shown that he can’t handle high pressure situations, Howard is set up to succeed even further with the Lakers and pad his own legacy as one of top centers to ever play the game of basketball.