Originally posted on Fox Sports Florida  |  Last updated 2/15/12
Wait a minute. Shaquille ONeal said it would be a travesty" if center Dwight Howard leaves Orlando. But what if the Magic could get in a deal for Howard the guy Shaq recently called the best center in the NBA? When it comes to Howard, ONeal talks out of so many sides youd think his mouth was in the shape of an octagon. ONeal said last month the best big man in the game is Andrew Bynum." That, of course, was a ridiculous comment. Shortly after it was uttered by Shaq, the legendary center-turned-less legendary TNT analyst, Howard outscored Bynum 21-10 and outrebounded him 23-12 in a 92-80 Orlando home win over the Lakers on Jan. 20. Now, even though Bynum is a player the Magic apparently could get in return for Howard, ONeal believes it would be a travesty" if Howard were to bolt. ONeal goes back and forth on comments so much, how can anybody really take him seriously? Hes regularly alternated between praising and ripping Howard, saying just last June at his retirement press conference, There's only really one dominant big man left, and that's Dwight Howard." It certainly could be devastating if Howard, who has asked to be traded by the March 15 deadline and can opt out of his contract and become a free agent this summer, leaves Central Florida. But nobody really needs Shaq to tell us this. The irony in all this is ONeal bolted Orlando himself as a free agent in 1996, signing with the Lakers. But now he apparently wants to rewrite history. I wanted to stay in Orlando," said ONeal, who spoke Tuesday on a Turner Sports conference call looking ahead to the network televising the Feb. 26 NBA All-Star Game in Orlando. Thats not exactly the same picture ONeals former Orlando teammates have painted. Nick Anderson, now a community ambassador for the team, has told me how ONeal always wanted to play for the Lakers. I can remember back when Shaq was a senior in high school and I was at the University of Illinois, and he came for a recruiting visit," Anderson said. "(ONeal) said he wanted to be the Lakers' next great center. That had been his dream. And in practice a few times (during his final Magic season of 1995-96) he'd be running down the court and say, 'I'll see you all with my new team next year.' " Another former teammate from ONeals Magic days, Dennis Scott, has recalled that Shaq always loved movies and was thinking it would be fun to be out there." The good news for Lakers fans was ONeal led the team to titles in 2000, 2001 and 2002. The bad news for everybody is that among the movies ONeal starred in were Kazaam and Steel, which have abysmal ratings of 2.5 and 2.7 (out of 10), respectfully, on the Internet Movie Database. Its good there never was a sequel to either. But, when it comes to the NBA, there have been plenty of sequels about legendary centers ending up with the Lakers and being fitted for rings and movie roles. There was Wilt Chamberlain going from Philadelphia to the Lakers in 1968 and winning one championship in Los Angeles and eventually ending up in Conan the Destroyer. There was Kareem Abdul-Jabbar moving from Milwaukee to 1975 and five years later being in Airplane!. That was a good year for Abdul-Jabbar. He won his record sixth MVP, earned his first of what would be five titles with the Lakers, and had the best movie performance ever by an NBA center as Roger Murdock. So will Howard one day try to top that in L.A.? Well, Atlanta guard Tracy McGrady, a former Orlando player, has said Howard has the same personality" as ONeal and wants to be Hollywood." ONeal often has said Howard is trying to have the same personality by stealing his Superman" nickname. But ONeal, for now, is playing it nice. It would be great if (Howard) could put on a show and get the love and support of the fans here and get the MVP," ONeal said of the All-Star Game. Hopefully, he stays (in Orlando)." Nevertheless, the odds are Howard will depart and the odds are it will be L.A. And then ONeal really could continue his back-and-forth talk about Howard. No doubt he regularly would challenge Howard about trying to duplicate his feat of three titles with the Lakers. As for the risk of having a similar movie career as ONeal, maybe that would be the biggest travesty if indeed Howard does land in Hollywood. Chris Tomasson can be reached at christomasson@hotmail.com or on Twitter@christomasson
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