On the night Shaquille O’Neal’s No. 34 jersey was retired, the former Los Angeles Lakers center challenged the Lakers new big-man Dwight Howard to average 28 and 10 a night.
“I would like to see him average 28 (points) and 10 (rebounds),” O’Neal said. “That’s the number that was thrown in my face, 28 and 10, so that’s the number I’m always going to throw in his face.”
Howard did score 24 points with 12 rebounds Tuesday night in the Lakers’ 101-81 win over the Dallas Mavericks.
“I’m not criticizing the guy; I’m just issuing a challenge,” O’Neal said. “I see a kid with a lot of talent. When I see him averaging 16 or 18 (points), that’s not enough for me.”
O’Neal, who won three NBA championships with the Lakers, said it was time to move on from the organization after playing eight seasons in L.A.
“It wasn’t all about just because me and (Kobe Bryant), It was just the business of basketball. Luckily, for me the way I was raised, I’m used to doing something different every four years. So, I looked at it like I spent two military tenures here. I was in L.A. eight years. It was just time for me to do something else. It was time for Kobe to come into his own. It was time for me to go somewhere else.”
O’Neal said if he and Bryant didn’t have a love-hate relationship, they may not have been so successful together.
“The task was to win championships. We won three out of four,” O’Neal said. “If we would have tried to be all buddy, buddy, it might have went differently.”
“Every time I see his lovely wife and his beautiful children, I always go to his children and say, ‘Hello, babies. I’m uncle Shaq.’ So, you know we had a couple arguments and disagreements. We had a million good times and a thousand bad times. But, as a leader, it was my job to just focus on the past and I did that. Leaders, sometimes when you focus on the task, the relationship dwindles. But if I had it all over to do it again, would I do it different? Probably not.”
O’Neal played 19 seasons in the NBA that featured four championships, three finals MVP awards, one regular season MVP, two scoring titles, Rookie of the Year and 15 All-Star appearances.