Shaquille O’Neal vs. Dwight Howard: Comparing the Games of Two Lakers Big Men

Dwight Howard never wanted to be Shaquille O'Neal, even though the basketball fates have seemingly conspired to make them historical twins.

Like Shaq, Howard was drafted first overall by the Orlando Magic, developed into the best big man in the NBA, carried his team to the NBA Finals and even adopted the nickname "Superman" along the way.

Now, like O'Neal, Howard is a member of the Los Angeles Lakers, albeit via trade and by way of a much more acrimonious exit than even the one that saw Shaq walk across the country as a free agent.

Both are gregarious giants and jokesters by nature, though they've never gotten along well. Shaq has long taken to chiding and baiting Howard, even referring to Andrew Bynum (for whom Howard was essentially traded) as the best big man in basketball on national television.

Whatever resentment or ill will O'Neal feels toward Howard or vice versa likely has more to do with Howard's following in O'Neal's footsteps than any copycat crimes between their respective games. Shaq suggested as much while at Comic-Con in San Diego in July:

Frankly, their respective games are like night and day, or about as much so as those of two once-in-a-generation-type talents at center can be.

Size and shape are at the heart of the difference in their styles. Nearly every other disparity between O'Neal and Howard stems from the fact that the former was always significantly bigger than the latter was, is or likely ever will be—especially from the waist down.  

Shaq entered the league in 1992 at a legitimate 7'1" (without shoes) and 303 pounds—a massive, yet agile post presence with phenomenal footwork for a human being his size.

A size that only grew over the years as O'Neal's waistline ballooned with age.

A dozen years later, Howard made his debut in the NBA at a much shorter 6'10.25" (with shoes) and a lean 240 pounds. Few would ev...

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