Now that Shaquille O’Neal has officially announced his retirement, the door is wide open for someone to claim the title of the NBA’s most dominant and charismatic center. Shaq hasn’t been a dominant center in the league for several years now, but he’s still a favorite amongst NBA fans due to his comical personality and clean image.
But, now that the announcement has been made and his retirement seems to be official, it’s time to pass the torch. The most likely successor is former current Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard. Like Shaq, Howard’s first NBA team is the Orlando Magic, and he also shares the “Superman” moniker. Howard possesses the strength and defensive skills of a young Shaq, but he is 2 inches shorter and about 60 pounds lighter, with a less developed post-game at this point. However, Howard makes up for his shortcomings in height, weight, and post-game with ridiculous hops. Crowned the 2008 NBA Slam Dunk Champion, Howard makes dunking on 10 foot regulation rims look like something you would see at the miniature “dunk courts” behind the local Elementary School.
While Howard’s physical qualities should easily propel him towards the title of the NBA’s most dominant center, he simply doesn’t possess the wit or charm of Shaq. He should be commended for appearing on commercials and trying his hand at acting, but he looks as comfortable in front of a camera as Kobe Bryant does at the San Francisco Pride parade.
Let’s look at some other Shaq pretenders:
Glen Davis, aka “Big Baby”, “Baby Shaq”: Davis has soft hands and quick feet like a young Shaq, but he’s only 6’9 and 289 pounds and his best defensive skill is flopping. One area he does have Shaq beat is in the drooling category.
Sofoklis Schortsanitis, aka “Greek Shaq”: Schortsanitis put up a respectable showing in the 2006 FIBA World Championships, but he must have earned his nickname by weighing 345 pounds and having a huge noggin. After that, all comparisons should seriously stop.
Eddy Curry: Drafted straight out of high school in 2001, Curry was hyped up as the second coming of Shaq. During that year’s draft, there was also a huge debate over which high-school player should be picked first: Curry or Tyson Chandler. Almost ten years later, Curry is a NBA free-agent, has been charged with sexual harassment by his chauffeur, and is fighting off foreclosure on his home. Meanwhile, Chandler has matured into one of the premier centers in the NBA, and is a major contributor on a Dallas Mavericks team now playing in the NBA Finals.