Dwight Howard's relationship with Shaquille O'Neal is no secret to the NBA community. During his days in Orlando, D12 looked up to Shaq and it was almost as if O'Neal himself had passed the torch over to his younger, slimmer counterpart.
Unfortunately, things got a bit rocky when Dwight donned Shaq's "Superman" nickname and it eventually derailed their relationship. Since then, O'Neal has used every opportunity to flame Howard for being "weak" and "unworthy" and the perception is that the two have a bit of a rivalry going on.
Nevertheless, it was Dwight who recently called O'Neal the most dominant center ever in an interview with Brandon "Scoop B" Robinson:
Dwight believes that Shaquille O’Neal is a human cheat code and called him the most dominant center. “If you don’t go with Shaq you’re trippin,” said Howard.
No matter the history, it seems Howard still has a tremendous amount of respect and admiration for O'Neal's talent on the basketball court -- and he should.
During the 2001 Finals in which he referred to, Shaq was averaging 33 points, 15.8 rebounds, 4.8 assists, and 3.4 blocks on 57% shooting. In Game 2 alone, he put up 28 points, 20 rebounds, 9 assists, and a whopping 8 blocks. He was completely and utterly unstoppable and his play is what earned him Finals MVP in the five-game series that year.
Good on Howard to not let his history with Shaq cloud his judgment. Like it or not, the guy is, undoubtedly, one of the All-Time greats and may very well be the most dominant player to ever pick up a basketball.
Howard will likely never achieve that level of greatness, but the hope is that he can finally shut the haters up with a Championship victory of his own this season. Only time will tell, but perhaps he should take a page or two from O'Neal's playbook...