Shaquille O’Neal Is Wrong About Dwight Howard

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Shaquille O’Neal has an affinity for nicknames, “The Big Aristotle”, “The Big Shamrock”, etc… Here is another one:  “The Big Can’t Get Over It”.  Okay it is not as eloquent as the ones he gives himself, but it is long past time he got past his issues with Dwight Howard. 

shaqhowardApparently, Howard’s big offenses to Shaq were:  taking the nickname “Superman”.   (Like Shaq was the first to ever use that one.)  And the media comparing Howard to Shaq, or calling him the next great center. 

For these two offenses Shaq rarely misses an opportunity to put Howard down.  My words to Shaq are:  You are an all-time great stop being so insecure.  If Michael Jordan reacted every time a player was called the next MJ, he’d be hating all the time.  Michael is apparently a lot more secure in himself and his place in history than you are.

Shaq’s most recent salvo is that Howard signed with the Houston Rockets because he couldn’t handle the lights of Los Angeles.  Ridiculous.  Here are valid reasons for leaving that have nothing to do with location:

  • L.A. has a coach in Mike D’Antoni, that Howard believes, doesn’t maximize his game.
  • He signed with a team, Houston, that has a coach, Kevin McHale, and hall of fame mentor, Hakeen Olajuwon, he feels better suits him.
  • Chemistry issues with the Lakers star player, and professed, “man”, Kobe Bryant.  (Shaq can you relate to issues with Kobe?)
  • Houston is also a much younger team and bettered suited to make a run at championships for years to come.
  • The Lakers are an aging, cash strapped, over the salary cap, team.

 

These are factors that would have a lot stars seeking greener pastures.

Shaq, you say everybody wants to be in L.A., but Howard never really professed that.  When he was in Orlando, he preferred a trade to the Brooklyn Nets.  Not exactly dim lights in New York.  On being traded, Howard always stated he would play out his year and see what happens in free agency, regardless of the team he was traded to.

Ironically, if the Lakers did what most thought they should, and hired the same coach that carried you to three championships, Phil Jackson, Howard likely would have stayed.

Bottom line Shaq, logic doesn’t support your conclusions.  I’m a fan of yours.  And as a fan, as big as you are, I can tell you, your attacks on Howard make you look small.  And  they’re getting old and tired.   Give it rest.  It should be beneath you.

 

Correcting ESPN’s Colin Cowherd Again

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It this week’s edition of correcting ESPN’s Colin Cowherd, the subject is Los Angeles Laker coach Mike D’Antoni.  On his radio show simulcast on ESPNU, this past Monday, the Herd wanted to make the case that going forward D’Antoni was the wrong coach for Lakers.  And more specifically he’s wrong for Laker center and now free agent Dwight Howard.

This is a fair and debatable topic that I have no problem with.  I can understand both points of view.  In fact I recently wrote a blog that the Lakers, New York Knicks and Oklahoma City Thunder might be haunted by not hiring Phil Jackson.

durantanthonyI would also take Kevin Durant over Carmelo Anthony.  Doesn’t mean Anthony isn’t a great basketball player.

Where the Herd went wrong is when he went all “shock jock” and started talking out of his rear-end slamming D’Antoni.  His over the top rant was that D’Antoni always under performed as a head coach in the playoffs.

This is absurd.  Two minutes of fact checking disproves this.  There is no reason for The Herd not to know this.

So let’s look at the facts.  Mike D’Antoni inherited a terrible team, mid-season, when he was the coach of the Phoenix Suns.  He was 20-41 in 2003/04.  He went on to coach for four full seasons.  How did the Suns do in the playoffs in those years?

  • 2004-5:   They lose in the Western Conference Finals to the eventual champion San Antonio Spurs. (Who beat the defending champion Detroit Pistons.)
  • 2005-6: They lose in the Western Conference Finals to the higher seeded Dallas Mavericks.
  • 2006-7: They lose in the Western Conference Semi-Finals to the eventual NBA champion San Antonio Spurs.   This is the year where Robert Horry gave Steve Nash a cheap shot in front of Phoenix’s bench that led to some suspensions of player’s like Amar’e Stoudemire.  The Spurs also won a game in this series thanks to a Tim Duncan three-point shot sending the game into O.T.  Not exactly a failure of strategy.
  • 2007-8:  Lost in the first round to the higher seeded San Antonio Spurs.
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Robert Horry hip checks Steve Nash in the closing seconds of a playoff game where the outcome was no longer in doubt.

Saying D’Antoni always under performed because he primarily couldn’t get by Gregg Popovich and the Spurs dynasty is like saying Pat Riley under performed as head coach of the Knicks because NY couldn’t get past Phil Jackson and the Bulls.

Which series, specifically, did D’Antoni under perform Herd?  Hhmm??

Yes Colin, D’Antoni did have two-time MVP Steve Nash.  But not many would make the argument he was the best player in the game.  In fact many made the argument that Shaquille O’Neal deserved the MVP  one of those years.  But no doubt Nash was great.  You know who else is great Herd?  Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker.

In New York, D’Antoni inherited a team that was in massive salary cap dump mode to clear room to try to lure Lebron James as a free agent.  Between roster turnover, injury, and the lockout, it is hard to slam D’Antoni for his one first round playoff loss to the Boston Celtics while in NY.

In L.A… He is hired after the start of the season.  So no training camp.  Pau Gasol misses significant time due to injury.  Steve Nash misses time due to injury including some playoff games.  Kobe Bryant misses the playoffs.  Dwight Howard isn’t fully recovered from back surgery, and tears a labrum in his shoulder.  Metta-World-Peace has knee surgery during the season.

This is just part of the Laker’s laundry list of things that went wrong this season.  And as a seventh seed they lose to D’Antoni’s old nemesis the San Antonio Spurs.  Is this a clear example of under performing?

Whether it is Phil Jackson or anyone else Herd, if you want to make a case for a different coach make it.  But don’t slander a coach and misrepresent the record.  You might be able to make a point about a D’Antoni team under performing in a season or two but always? Not even close.

And as I have stated when talking about your assaults on Michael Jordan when deifying Lebron James, you have three hours, five days a week, so you do have time to get stories right.

The reasons he doesn’t?   The choices are:

  • He and his production team are incompetent.
  • They’re negligent.
  • He has a vendetta against D’Antoni.
  • He is a shock jock for ratings and doesn’t care whose career or reputation he might hurt.

You’re good enough without this Colin.  You should clean it up.

NBA Competition Committee Has “Hack a Shaq” Backwards

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You know that annoying strategy, the Hack a Shaq, where unless you’re a fan of the team employing it, you think it should go away?  For the uninitiated, the Hack a Shaq is intentionally, and repeatedly, committing an on or off the ball foul of a player who is a poor foul shooter.

Created by Dallas Maverick coach Don Nelson, it achieved notoriety in the past when employed by San Antonio Spur coach, Gregg Popovich, on former Los Angeles Laker center Shaquille O’Neal.  Current Laker center Dwight Howard is presently on the receiving end of it by Popovich.

As strategies go, if this were baseball it would be called “bush league” and considered unbecoming of a coach of Popovich’s, stature.

I don’t like the Hack a Shaq and it should go.  However, according to an article published by the AP’s Brian Mahoney these are some of the NBA Competition Committee’s thoughts on the matter:

Dwight-HowardLeague president Joel Litvin said owners and the Competition Committee felt that abolishing the strategy, which does slow games down, would be “rewarding a guy who can’t shoot free throws.”

Well I’ll grant the committee this; it does slow the game down by what amounts to a non-basketball play, that is not exciting, or involve skill.  You can make the case that this type of game stoppage, especially when the foul is committed off the ball, should fall into the category of a delay of game. 

The Hack a Shaq slows the game down more than rolling the ball out-of-bounds after a made basket.  If it is a delay of game than the first infraction is a warning and the second is a technical.

And committing a foul is an infraction.  The league is counter intuitively rewarding the team committing the infraction.  It has to be one or the other.   If you don’t want to reward a guy who can’t hit foul shots than you do want to reward the team that says forget legitimate strategy, forget playing the game the way it was meant to be played, we are going to intentionally make illegal contact with a guy who doesn’t have the ball.

I would think the Competition Committee would want games decided by great offense, great defense or a combination of the two.  Not a loophole or exploitation of a rule. 

Shaquille O'Neal, James JonesI’ll even take it one step further and make the case that any foul, which is not in the act of shooting, that results in foul shots, the team being victimized by the foul should get to choose who on their team takes the foul shot.

Again, the team committing the foul has committed the offense.  There should be no or absolutely minimal advantage to them for doing so.  If this is too harsh, perhaps instead of after the 6th team foul committed in the quarter, this adaptation of the rule can take place after the 8th or 10th.  This way there is an incremental aspect to it that further punishes a team for committing fouls to excess.  

The league likes offense right?  This would speed up the pace of the game and or encourage cleaner defense as the consequence of committing a rules infraction, which is what a foul is, would be greater.