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Shaq says Dwight Howard couldn’t handle the pressure of playing for the Lakers (VIDEO)

Jul 6, 2013, 9:30 PM EDT

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.

101 Comments (Feed for Comments)
  1. kanemoney - Jul 6, 2013 at 9:41 PM


    • spthegr8 - Jul 6, 2013 at 10:33 PM

      & B-I-N-G-O was her name-O!!!

      • badintent - Jul 7, 2013 at 3:17 AM

        h-o-o-p-z is her name. And she can squat Shaq( Saw it on Kimmel last year ).

  2. bmoreravens1012013 - Jul 6, 2013 at 9:44 PM

    Shaq just keeping it one hundred….

  3. sgtr0c - Jul 6, 2013 at 9:45 PM

    Shaq also claims to have more stylish shoes then my car. Which is true, I wear Vans. But I’m sayin that it is just sayin’.

    • biasedhomer - Jul 7, 2013 at 12:01 AM

      Your car is a van?

  4. jzone954 - Jul 6, 2013 at 9:46 PM

    Not everybody wants to be a laker and play alongside Kobe. I mean it is what it is……

    • Anoesis - Jul 7, 2013 at 1:28 AM

      Then why did he accept a trade there except to use the Lakers as a launching pad to go elsewhere? That makes him a player of a different sort. No wonder his reputation is somewhere down around politician or sewer rat.

  5. kinggw - Jul 6, 2013 at 9:49 PM

    Its pathetic for a 41 year old man be so jealous.

    • kinggw - Jul 6, 2013 at 9:50 PM

      *to be so jealous

      • mrsingh24 - Jul 6, 2013 at 10:14 PM

        What does Shaq have to be jealous off? The fact that Howards won zero titles whereas he’s won 4?

      • mrsingh24 - Jul 6, 2013 at 10:14 PM

        What does Shaq have to be jealous of? The fact that Howards won zero titles whereas he’s won 4?

      • money2long - Jul 6, 2013 at 10:19 PM

        don’t worry about the typo. you’re still going to get thumb’d down.

      • mrsingh24 - Jul 6, 2013 at 10:20 PM

        Or that he was a three time Finals MVP? People need to get real. This whole Howard FA signing is too hyped. The guy is extremely immature and looks for the easy way out.

      • whoisferg - Jul 7, 2013 at 10:14 AM

        Shaq is jealous because he is irrelevant. Out of sight, out of mind. He talks and says things controversial because it is the only was he can keep himself in the publics radar. Dude has $250million dollar, was a great player, most dominant guys at his position ever…now go away.

        DHoward definitely didn’t want the spotlight on him in L.A. But there are other reasons too. D’Antoni’s offense blows. It is not suited for him (or any of the other players on the Lakers). Kobe is a huge pain in the ass. The Lakers overall talent level is about as low as it has been in anyone reading this’ lifetime. The Lakers are one of the top two storied franchises (and could be argued #1) in the history of the NBA, but they are looking at some lean times over the next couple of years.

        Shaq is entitled to his opinion, but he is kidding himself if he just thinks DHoward bolted because he is mentally weak.

    • demetribush - Jul 6, 2013 at 9:56 PM

      Jealous?!? 4 rings and the right to call himself an NBA legend. Your saying he’s jealous of Dwight.

    • biasedhomer - Jul 7, 2013 at 12:02 AM

      Shaq has done everything Howard wishes to accomplish.

    • tomtravis76 - Jul 7, 2013 at 6:27 AM

      Shaq is correct. The media wants to crown Howard as one of the great centers of all time, and Shaq is protecting his position and the great men who established the center position. Howard just happens to play during a time dominated by guards….and LeBron.

  6. soundsofsuccess7 - Jul 6, 2013 at 9:49 PM

    He’s just saying what we’re all thinking, haha.

  7. blakegriffin32 - Jul 6, 2013 at 9:59 PM

    All the flack that Howard gets (and he deserves a lot of it) he still make the correct basketball decision to leave.

  8. mblue24 - Jul 6, 2013 at 10:00 PM

    Shaq hit it right on. It’s the truth.

  9. logisticalvoices - Jul 6, 2013 at 10:01 PM

    Jealous? Please. He’s just Shaqtin a fool.

  10. bucs24 - Jul 6, 2013 at 10:18 PM

    No one wants to play with Kobe, baby buss release him he’s not coming back this year than next year start fresh without Kobe

    • stayhigh_247 - Jul 7, 2013 at 12:04 AM

      and while we’re at it, can we release you too?

      • badintent - Jul 7, 2013 at 3:20 AM

        second the motion. The motion is passed. New business. What size Depends is Howard wearing.?

  11. barbeaux - Jul 6, 2013 at 10:34 PM

    Shaq is right. Houston isn’t LA. Football is king here in Texas. Basketball is an afterthought. That’s not the same in LA. The truly great players never needed an excuse to account for their not being prolific. Howard made on in LA. Odom made on in Dallas. He won’t win a title in Houston either.

    • adoombray - Jul 6, 2013 at 10:52 PM

      I disagree. Houston is an AWESOME basketball city, easily a top 10 place I’ve caught a game at. The difference is there isn’t as much media there trying to make a story out of nothing. Not nearly as much TMZ. Rockets fans are amazing though.

      It comes down to the “Laker Mystique” being a media invention. Jim Buss is not respected and the color of the uniforms and the style of the logo will mean nothing when in 2 years nobody will be under contract but a broken down PG who hasn’t displayed an ability to be healthy away from the Phoenix Witch Doctors. Reputation for a franchise means nothing. Reputation of an owner is everything. RIP Doctor Buss.

  12. ruggedry - Jul 6, 2013 at 10:36 PM

    Shaq can still out play Him lol

  13. mohammadanaqvi - Jul 6, 2013 at 10:39 PM

    It’s true that Dwight Howard is mentally weak, sensitive, and easily irritated on the court. But his decision to leave L.A wasn’t about the bright lights and pressure; it was about making the best basketball decision for his style of play and his growth. Some Laker butt hurt Laker fans like to mock him for leaving, but a rebuilding Laker team is not an ideal place for a player in their prime. Use your mind when you comment, not your broken hearted emotions.

    • spthegr8 - Jul 6, 2013 at 11:30 PM

      “Broken hearted emotions” It’s just basketball bro. You need too…… CHILL!!!! I mean I love my squad & all but when things do go our way, I’m FAR from broken hearted. I’m Just Saying!!!

  14. hatesycophants - Jul 6, 2013 at 10:47 PM

    Shaq’s assessment of the situation rates higher than yours… no matter who you are.


  15. conjecture101 - Jul 6, 2013 at 10:48 PM

    Not saying he’s entirely wrong but; It was a different organization when Shaq played there and more specifically when he won there. Jerry Buss & Phil Jackson makes the bright lights a whole lot more appealing than Jim Buss & the current coaching staff.

  16. yousuxxors - Jul 6, 2013 at 10:51 PM

    Dwight never wanted to go to LA in the first place.

    • Anoesis - Jul 7, 2013 at 1:37 AM

      The day Howard was introduced as a Laker (from ESPNLA):

      Howard now joins a storied lineage of Lakers big men dating back to George Mikan, Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Shaquille O’Neal, who all led the Lakers to championships after joining the team.

      “I don’t want to try to compete with those guys,” Howard said. “I want to bring my own flavor to L.A. I saw a picture last night. It was like the Mount Rushmore (of Lakers centers) and they had all those guys up there and said, ‘Will he join the list of heads with the Lakers greats.’ I want to be great in my own right. I want to write my own history and today is the first day of that history.”

      Howard let out a big sigh and flashed a big smile when he finally was given his No. 12 Lakers jersey and held it up for the first time. He inspected it from front to back before carrying it around the rest of the day, peaking at it from time to time to make sure it was real.

      “It’s kind of unreal,” Howard said. “It finally happened. It’s here. Just walking around upstairs and driving here … I’m really a part of the Lakers. It hasn’t really hit me yet. I’m just happy to be here and I’m going to make the best out of it.”

      Revisionist history is never pretty as long as Google is a keystroke away.

      • tfoz5150 - Jul 7, 2013 at 9:31 AM

        Wilt was already past his prime by the time he got to the Lakers.

  17. philtration - Jul 6, 2013 at 10:52 PM

    Says the man that left the Lakers to play in Miami.

    • casualcommenter - Jul 6, 2013 at 11:20 PM

      Uh, what?

      Shaq didn’t “leave the Lakers.” The feud between Kobe and Shaq escalated into a “choose either him or me” situation. Shaq got traded when the Lakers chose to build around the younger Kobe.

      So Shaq going to Miami had nothing to do with him “not being able to deal with the pressure of playing for LA.” Far from shrinking from the pressure in LA, Shaq won a league MVP and 3 Finals MVPs while in LA.

      Were you even alive from 1999-2005, or did you just read about that era on Wikipedia? Sheesh.

      • casualcommenter - Jul 6, 2013 at 11:25 PM

        Shaq attributed everything the Lakers’ front office did that offseason – Phil Jackson not being kept as a coach, the Lakers’ refusal to give him another mega deal, etc. – to the Lakers wanting to keep Kobe happy instead of prioritizing Shaq’s happiness.

        It was a power struggle between Kobe and Shaq, and Shaq lost because Kobe was clearly the franchise’s future for 10+ years.

      • Anoesis - Jul 7, 2013 at 1:49 AM

        What you say is true, but you’re leaving out several other reasons Dr. Buss wasn’t sorry to ship O’Neal out. Shaq was an ass about wanting a ridiculously expensive extension, even though he often showed up at training camps fat and out of shape. Delaying needed surgeries from early summer until right before camp started didn’t endear him to management (“I got hurt on company time, I’ll rehab on company time”).

        He could often be lazy on the defensive end. He resented Bryant’s presence and refused to change a demeanor that undermined team unity. With the wisdom of hindsight, he has stated that he should have worked harder to remain on the team and felt he and Bryant could easily have won several more rings.

        O’Neal and Bryant are one of the best-ever big-man, little-man combos and I’ll always enjoy the memory of their time dominating the league. He was outgoing, engaging, outrageous and highly entertaining. He was the yin to Bryant’s yang. And he’s completely right in that Howard doesn’t possess the ability to weather the stormy basketball environment in L.A. and is better off in Houston.

      • tfoz5150 - Jul 7, 2013 at 9:32 AM

        All shaq could do was dunk.

      • philtration - Jul 7, 2013 at 8:34 PM

        “Choose either him or me”
        he actually thought that it was going to be Kobe that was shipped out.
        Shaq pouted and whined his way out of L.A..
        Shaq did not want out because of “not being able to deal with the pressure of playing for LA”
        He cried his way out
        of town because he could not handle NOT being the center of attention and that makes him a weak punk.

        Shaq was a great player in his prime (before he started trying to skip the regular seasons year after year) but he has always been borderline retarded.

    • spthegr8 - Jul 6, 2013 at 11:24 PM

      This is true. Shaq did leave L.A. & go play for Miami………… What you conveniently left out is, Shaq was traded!! & he Also won league MVP & lead the Lakers to a 3 Peat. Not to mention winning 3 Finals MVP’s too go along with it!! So if you are trying to say the Diesel couldn’t handle the pressure of L.A. You couldn’t be any more WRONG!!!!! The Diesel was the definition of DOMINANT when he was in L.A.!!!

  18. philtration - Jul 6, 2013 at 10:52 PM

    Says the man that left the Lakers to play in Miami.

    • bostonian13 - Jul 6, 2013 at 11:02 PM

      No, says the guy who played in LA for 8 seasons, won 3 rings and didn’t leave after one season. Anyway, I love Sandlers shirt. All day.

  19. funkmong - Jul 6, 2013 at 11:06 PM

    Dwizzite takin’ his tiny ambitions to the little bitty town of huustin. Better hope LeBron “retires” for two years so the rockettes can win a few.

    • Anoesis - Jul 7, 2013 at 1:50 AM

      LBJ can hit the curve? I wouldn’t doubt it.

  20. acdc84 - Jul 6, 2013 at 11:11 PM

    Shaq has four rings (three of which he truly earned). Say what you want about him but he’ll always have four more than Howard.

  21. jbeagles23 - Jul 6, 2013 at 11:30 PM

    I don’t like either team so don’t really have a dog in this fight. But shaq can say whatever he wants about Howard. Howard is playing in the weakest era of nba centres in history and still doesn’t dominate close to the way shaq does. He doesn’t make the rockets a contender. Their ceiling this year if everything goes right are the western conference finals

  22. sportsnut101 - Jul 6, 2013 at 11:31 PM

    Shaq only way to keep his name in media is to keep bashing Howard why won’t shaq just worry about his life n d12 will do his own thing.

    Last time I checked shaq didn’t win first few yrs with lakers till Kobe got better so please with shaq the great center of lakers. His had a great 3 yr run with the titles. Lost in finals to pistons n then Dwayne wade carried him with heat first ring

    Shaq had Phil Not mike dantoni
    D12 wanted Phil. Lakers didn’t

    Why didn’t lakers sayin meeting listen u sign here for 5 yrs we will amnesty Kobe n sign josh smith They traded shaq when Kobe threatened to leave

  23. 407magic - Jul 6, 2013 at 11:35 PM

    I dislike Dwight and not a big fan of shaq. Yes I’m a magic fan BUT I have to disagree with shaq. Dwight never wanted to go to LA. When in Orlando Dwight wanted Brooklyn, Houston, Dallas in that order.

    Plus why would you want to play with a bunch of 35 and up guys and have to wait 5 seasons to rebuild and become contenders and breath the most polluted air in the country with a state tax lol.

    • Anoesis - Jul 7, 2013 at 1:51 AM

      Then Howard lied out his ass when he got to L.A. He said he was happy to be there and looking forward to making his own history. Well, I guess he did just that: He’s history.

    • Anoesis - Jul 7, 2013 at 2:07 AM

      L.A. air quality has improved remarkably in the past 40 years. They are still first in ozone, but only 4th in particulates. Most of the pollution is generated in the Long Beach area where a huge amount of imports to this country come through the ports there.

      Howard will still pay state taxes for road games. It’s true there’s no state income tax in Texas. I live there and the roads and schools suck because of the lack of an income tax and relatively low property taxes. The property tax rate is actually higher than in California, but the property values aren’t as high. Of course, someone like Howard will have a multi-million-dollar mansion so he will pay through the nose.

      I can see why you don’t like either Howard or O’Neal since they both bailed on your team. At least O’Neal was honest about where he wanted to go.

  24. rodericksilva - Jul 6, 2013 at 11:44 PM

    Smart basketball decision??

    Howard decided to leave a team which has missed the playoffs a total of five times in its existence for a team which has failed to qualify for the postseason eight of the past 14 seasons.

    The last time the Rockets were good enough to win their division? 1995. The Lakers have won 5 rings during that time.

    I’m pretty sure that by the time Howard retires the Lakers will have won more rings than Howard.

  25. Great Caesar's Ghost - Jul 7, 2013 at 12:06 AM

    The pressure of carrying an old, broken down team to 40 wins…the Lakers needed this wake up call. Time to figure out the future. Also Howard isn’t worth the all the fuss, especially not worth supplicating beta billboards.

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