Future hall-of-fame center Shaquille O’Neal has been back in the news recently, claiming that Brook Lopez is the second best center in basketball, behind only Andrew Bynum and in front of Dwight Howard. When Brook heard these comments, he along with Deron Williams, were very thankful to Shaq. Avery Johnson even said that he understands where O’Neal is coming from.
Dwight Howard did not respond nearly as well to the comments. “I don’t care what Shaq says. Shaq played the game. He’s done. He’s gone. It’s time to move on,” said Howard. Howard and O’Neal have been in a bit of a feud ever since Howard claimed to be the next “Superman” after Shaq’s play began declining. Shaq believes that Howard is not a great offensive center and thinks that Lopez’s overall game is better.
Howard and Lopez have been mentioned in the same sentence many times in the past year with the possibility of Howard coming to Brooklyn. The trade never happened and now Howard is in Los Angeles, but the comparisons between these two players may never end.
Back in May when Orlando was hiring its general manager, Shaq was thought to be an outside candidate. Just imagine if he was named the general manager and traded Dwight to the Nets along with other players in order to get Lopez, who Shaq believes to be a better player than Howard.
That is probably the reason why O’Neal was not hired, because Howard has clearly proven himself to be the better player. Howard has won the defensive player of the year multiple times, led the NBA in rebounding multiple times, and even single-handedly took the Magic to the finals in 2009 (only to lose to the Lakers). Although Brook may be a little better on offense, he has never even played in a playoff game and has been called a soft rebounder (and the numbers back it up).
However, Deron Williams was there to back up Lopez and O’Neal. About Brook, Deron said, “People start labeling you a certain type of player. Brook has been going strong, he has been going after every rebound in practice. I expect a big year from him.” Deron, along with every Net fan, is hoping that Brook will become a force inside this year and improve his rebounding and defense. We will see if he has been able to do this year when the season starts.
Howard won’t have to wait long to face Lopez one-on-one this year. The Nets visit the Lakers on November 20th.