Game recognizes game, right?
So why would Shaquille O’Neal be so vexed over the notion that Dwight Howard would want to follow him in both deed and acknowledgment? All hell broke loose in the days preceding an otherwise peaceful All-Star Game Weekend when the two behemoths came face-to-face during a Cavs vs. Magic matchup and the subject of who now most justifiably should own dibs to the Superman moniker heard light of day.
Of course, Shaq has sported the name longer—if for no other reason than he’s the more veteran player—and has the big, requsite “S” tattoo and “Man of Steel” lettering to prove it. But given his angst reaction to Howard daring to brand himself similarly, you would think he’s trademarked it as well.
“Superman, my ass,” said Shaq, openly taking offense with the idea Howard rarely plays him one-on-one in their head to head showdowns. “When I was coming up and there was Ewing and Hakeem, I never doubled anybody. You tell me who the real Superman is. I never doubled nobody.”
But being-doulecrossed? Well, in Shaq’s mind that seems a whole other story. “It’s normal for a kid to copycat his idol, but you know he can never be this good,” ranted O’Neal. “He’s a good player; he can jump. But they’ll probably never be another me. Everything he’s done, I’ve invented. So I’m not impressed.”
To his credit, the upstart Howard has taken the high road, behaving in a way that only seems fitting when one of the game’s greatest legend would be clearly your rather imaginary adversary. “I’m a young player trying to get to where he’s at,” said Howard. “I felt it would be better if he tried to help me instead of trying to put me down. I would just ask that somebody like Shaquille O’Neal help me become a better basketball player and a better person. He can have the name.”
Mind you, this wouldn’t be the first time Shaq has grown a little sensitive when he suspects in the least that his own greatness may somehow be growing diminished. Think, Penny Hardaway, Kobe Bryant or even Dwyane Wade.
Hey, Big Fella, Shaq, Superman— whatever name it is you you prefer— just chill out for a minute.
What’s the logic in a couple of brothers going to war over something neither one of them really owns to begin with? Try feeling all the love, but remember to share it a little bit as well. We all know they’ll never be another one quite like The Diesel. —Glenn Minnis