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Howard to Shaq: Stay Classy, Big Guy

Shaq gets a free pass for anything and everything, largely because ↵he's funny and once dominated the game like few in history. Even when ↵he crosses the line into pettiness, or bullying, that makes him appear ↵every bit as flawed as his great foil, Kobe Bryant. For instance, he's ↵made no secret of his disdain for young big men coming up in the ↵league. Especially Dwight Howard, who had the gall to co-opt O'Neal's ↵ultra-original "Superman" nickname. ↵
↵That explains why, speaking to Ken Berger, O'Neal has some ↵mildly amusing/insulting things to say about Howard. Howard obviously couldn't challenge O'Neal's ↵resume, or original claim to the Man of Steel routine. But he may have ↵succeeded in finding Shaq's great PR weakness, the image equivalent of ↵that awkward free throw "stroke." ↵
↵From the Orlando Sentinel: ↵
↵⇥"I can’t stop Shaq from saying anything. I just wouldn’t ↵⇥expect that coming from him," Howard said. "But the only thing I would ↵⇥expect from him is that he would try to help me improve my game and ↵⇥that’s it." ↵⇥
↵⇥Has he? ↵⇥
↵⇥"No," Howard said. ↵⇥
↵⇥"Like all the other big guys (do), you know, like Hakeem (Olajuwon), ↵⇥Pat Ewing, Dikembe (Mutombo), Bill Russell, David Robinson ... tried ↵⇥to help me improve ... Taking shots at somebody else, I wouldn’t do that." ↵
↵Game over. As much as O'Neal's tried to cast himself as an elder ↵statesman, a leader who can help a team learn how to win, it's this ↵kind of thing that proves what we've always suspected: He's a big kid, ↵and that cuts both way. Maybe this makes for jokes, fun, and good ↵quotes, but it's also proof of an underlying immaturity and lack of class ↵that's really not so far from Kobe at his most adolescent.↵

This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.