- Mike Mazzeo, ESPN Staff Writer
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He'd also take Brook Lopez over D12 ... assuming he can remember the Nets center's name.
Here's what O'Neal had to say when asked his opinion on who is the best big man in the NBA during a roundtable discussion with fellow TNT analysts posted on NBA.com last week:
"We as players, we always watch people before us. When I came in it was Patrick Ewing and Hakeem Olajuwon, guys who played like true centers who played inside. What we have now are centers that are going to the European style, which is a lot of pick-and-roll. Dwight Howard, who's a pick-and-roll player, some people say he's the best center in the league, but me being an old-school center, I'm going to go with Robin Lopez and Andrew Bynum because they play with their back to the basket."
O'Neal is later asked if he meant Brook Lopez, not his twin brother, Robin.
"Brook. Same thing. They're brothers."
For the record, Brook Lopez has averaged 17.4 points per game during his career. As for Robin? 5.8 points per game.
O'Neal then continues his argument in favor of Lopez:
"Listen to what I'm saying. I'm not talking about dunking, I'm talking about playing like a big man with the moves. My man, before he had the foot injury, was putting up nice, solid big man numbers. He don't have a lot of flash, a la Tim Duncan, but he can play. If you put him with a nice team around him, you can get a lot from this big man. Like if you want to go to go to flash and dunking and the pick and roll, you gotta go with Dwight Howard. But me, the last true original dundaughta (slang for big timer), I'm going with Andrew Bynum and which Lopez? Brook. Brook Lopez."
Shaq made headlines last season when he claimed Bynum was better than Howard during a TNT broadcast.
He has been highly complementary of Lopez before, saying the Nets center reminds him of Duncan.
"Classy guy," O'Neal said, referring to Lopez. "You'll never hear about him getting in trouble. Great moves, great composure, and you're really not going to faze him. A couple guys will probably try to rough him up, but that's not going to faze him. Good player. Good player."
3dMarc Stein and Mike Mazzeo