Shaq clarifies comments on Howard

LOS ANGELES -- Shaquille O'Neal hears the comparisons every time he comes back to Los Angeles now.
Los Angeles Lakers fans want to know what he thinks of Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard possibly coming to the Lakers.

They want to know if the Lakers could possibly produce a Superman sequel, with Howard as successful as the original with O'Neal, which resulted in three championships.

O'Neal remains skeptical and said Friday it would be in Howard's best interest to stay in Orlando.

"A lot of people try to compare our situations, but they're different," O'Neal told ESPNLosAngeles.com. "I think it would be a travesty if he left Orlando. I said that the other day and people didn't understand. First of all, he's the only big-name player on that team. When I was playing in Orlando, we had two big-name players on the team.

"Second, if he stays he gets $110 million; if he leaves he gets $80 million. My situation was different. They offered me $80 million and Jerry [West] offered me $120 million and I had to go. Third, if he wanted to stay he would have already committed. I'm a businessman. I came out the first day and I said this is what I want. I want to stay but this is what I want. So they came back with their offer and Jerry came with his offer and I decided to go somewhere else."

The biggest problem O'Neal has with Howard's handling of the situation is Howard's constantly changing his stance on whether he wants to be traded and where he wants to go.

"What he's doing is he's saying I don't know what I want to do," O'Neal said. "I want to do this and I want to do that. That's telling me there's an underlying problem nobody's talking about."

O'Neal, who was in Los Angeles to host the Cartoon Network Hall of Game Awards on Saturday, said the Lakers don't necessarily need to make a drastic move like trading for Howard or New Jersey Nets guard Deron Williams to make a championship run this season.

"There's nothing wrong with them," O'Neal said. "With Kobe in charge, they'll be fine. Kobe's always a confident guy. He's at the point in his career where we don't worry about home-court advantage or getting a top seed. Back in our younger days we needed home-court advantage and Phil [Jackson] wanted that to make us feel secure.

"Kobe knows what's going on and not only does he know, but he likes the challenge. They'll probably be the fifth or sixth seed. He's going to go on the road in someone else's gym and take back home-court advantage away. He's been through every challenge. Nothing fazes this kid anymore."

O'Neal says he is enjoying retirement and hasn't considered a comeback since leaving the game last June. Hearing about Allen Iverson possibly trying to make a comeback with the Lakers and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's difficulty getting a job in coaching after parting ways with the Lakers last year reminded him how important it was to have a retirement plan while he was still playing.

"I was prepared to retire," O'Neal said. "A lot of guys like Iverson, they're not prepared to retire. I was over-prepared to retire. That's why I threw a party when I retired. I don't want to say I could see the future but because of everyone else's mistakes, I already had a plan. I can remember when I was a youngster my father came in and hit me in the face with a book and told me to read the book.

"It was Kareem's book about how he had lost everything. I've been prepared and I've been frightened about [losing everything]. I mean frightened. While I was playing, especially while I was living here and doing other stuff, meeting people, continuing to go to school and getting my master's degree. I have a lot of things to fall back on now."

Arash Markazi is a reporter and columnist for ESPNLosAngeles.com.