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Nothing but love: Shaquille O’Neal buries hatchet with Strong Group star Dwight Howard

Martin Mendoza

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Nothing but love: Shaquille O’Neal buries hatchet with Strong Group star Dwight Howard

MAIN MAN. Dwight Howard goes for a shot during practice with Strong Group.

STRONG GROUP ATHLETICS

‘I love Dwight Howard – a lot of people don’t know that. This is my first time saying that,’ says NBA legend Shaquille O’Neal

MANILA, Philippines – All love between the two NBA legends. 

After many years of criticizing his fellow former Orlando Magic and Los Angeles Lakers superstar big man, Shaquille O’Neal finally buried the hatchet with Dwight Howard, who is currently playing for the Philippine squad Strong Group Athletics (SGA) in the Dubai International Basketball Championship.

In an appearance on Atlanta Hawks star Trae Young’s From The Point podcast, O’Neal gave Howard his much-deserved flowers, saying Howard did something he couldn’t do in his 19 seasons in the NBA. 

“If I mention your name, it means I love you and I respect you,” said the four-time NBA champion O’Neal.

“I used to love Dwight; he did something I couldn’t do. I wish I could jump that high.”

“I love Dwight Howard – a lot of people don’t know that. This is my first time saying that,” added the one-time NBA MVP.

Since the tail-end of his illustrious NBA career, O’Neal had been very vocal about his animosity towards Howard, mostly due to the latter’s use of the “Superman” moniker which O’Neal had already been known for. 

Back then, O’Neal and Howard drew a lot of comparisons as they were both drafted by Orlando as the No. 1 overall pick in the 1992 and 2004 NBA Draft, respectively, before leaving the Magic for the Lakers during their prime.

Unlike O’Neal, who steered the Lakers to three straight championships from 2000-2002, Howard failed to live up to expectations during his first stint with the storied franchise in the 2012-2013 season.

After bouncing around the league, it was only during the 2019-2020 season when Howard captured his one and only NBA title with the Lakers as the team’s backup center. 

When Howard’s playing career in the NBA came to an end in 2022, O’Neal even threw shade at Howard for taking his talents to the T1 League in Taiwan. 

Howard, a five-time All-NBA First Team member, eight-time NBA All-Star, and three-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year, clapped back at O’Neal, saying the 51-year-old great is “too old” to be hating. 

On Young’s podcast, O’Neal made it clear that he was only tough on his “little brother” Howard because he wanted the younger center to be even better than him.

“As a big brother, I’m not going to let my little brother slide because I want you to be better than me,” said O’Neal. 

“A lot of people don’t understand this thing of ours, they think it’s just hate.”

“No, it’s not hate. I’m telling you how to get here,” added O’Neal. 

As of posting, the 38-year-old Howard is currently averaging 17 points for Strong Group, which remains unbeaten in three matches. – Rappler.com

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