Dwight Howard rebuffs Shaquille O'Neal
ORLANDO, Fla. -- Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard is a three-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year and a five-time All-Star, but that wasn't enough for Shaquille O'Neal to call him the best big man in the game.
O'Neal, now a TNT analyst after retiring during the offseason following a sure-to-be Hall of Fame 19-season career in the league, bestowed that distinction on Los Angeles Lakers center Andrew Bynum during a recent telecast.
"The best big man in the game is Andrew Bynum," O'Neal said.
Bynum and Howard went head to head in the Magic's 92-80 win over the Lakers on Friday, and Howard got the best of Bynum, finishing with 21 points, 23 rebounds and one blocked shot to Bynum's 10 points, 12 rebounds and two blocks.
"I'm not going to say I didn't hear it, because I'd be lying, but I don't pay attention to it," Bynum said when asked about O'Neal's comments. "It's tough to watch the broadcast when you're probably playing in the game, you know?"
Bynum did not show any outward signs of flattery after being told what O'Neal had said about him.
"That's fine," Bynum said. "I think if I get a lot of opportunity, I can definitely do some of the things he can."
Howard addressed O'Neal's remarks at the Magic's shootaround Friday morning.
"He's mad about 'Superman,' " Howard said, according to the Orlando Sentinel. "I didn't know he made it up. I didn't know Superman came from Shaquille O'Neal."
Added Howard: "I would suggest he'd just sit down and get on with his life. He don't play no more, so what's the point of talking trash? It's not like we're wrestlers and we get to battle it out. Who cares?"
Bynum, who was sidelined with three early fouls and finished the game with five whistles against him, said he wishes the lockout-shortened season included another game against the Magic.
"I want to play again, just to get some shots on offense," said Bynum, who was 4-for-6 from the field and 2-for-5 from the foul line. "I think I only got six shots tonight, so I wasn't able to kind of go back at him. I think every play was ... some kind of screen at the elbow, and he gets a touch on the block. So, I took myself out of the game early, and he was able to come back and have a decent second half."
Prior to Friday's game, Bynum and Howard had played 10 times against one another in their careers, splitting the games 5-5. Howard averaged 20.4 points, 12.3 rebounds and 2.4 blocks on 58.7 percent shooting in 36.9 minutes per game, while Bynum averaged 8.8 points, 6.1 rebounds and 2.5 blocks on 49.3 percent shooting in 21.2 minutes per game.
This season, Bynum was averaging 16.3 points, 13.8 rebounds and 1.9 blocks on 52.9 percent shooting coming into Friday's game, while Howard was averaging 20.1 points, 15.6 rebounds and 2.4 blocks on 58.7 percent shooting.
"It wasn't about Dwight Howard night, it wasn't about Andrew Bynum night, it was about the Magic and the Lakers," Howard said after the game. "And that was the only thing that was on my mind was getting a win. There's no need to go back and forth about me and him. We play the game different ways, we both have an objective and that's to win. He's won two rings, and I'm trying to get mine. I try to lead by example by going out every night and giving 100 percent."
Dave McMenamin covers the Lakers for ESPNLosAngeles.com.