From Drew Garrison, Silver Screen & Roll: The puzzle of playing Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol has been a daunting one for the Los Angeles Lakers, both offensively and defensively. While it’s clear that Gasol does not have the foot speed to defend many power forwards, he still has the ability to play as a “stretch” four in the sense that he is still considered a threat from the mid-range and his ability to read the defense and make the right pass is top-notch. The thing is, this puzzle was figured out long ago. When Steve Nash came back from his fibula injury in December the Lakers were running HORNS sets and they were working like a charm. As they pulled further and further from December, they seemed to drift just as far away from running the versatile set.
From Ben Bolch, LA Times: If Shaquille O’Neal needed a nickname on his first day as a Laker, it could have been the Big Worrywart. As dominant as he was, the best big man in the NBA recognized he represented just a fraction of the Lakerscenters who had come before him. George Mikan won six titles while becoming Mr. Basketball.Wilt Chamberlain won two titles (one as a Laker) and scored 100 points in a game. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar won six titles (five as a Laker) and was the league’s all-time leading scorer. What had O’Neal done, besides help the Orlando Magic go poof in a four-game sweep during the 1995 Finals? “It was something I was terrified of,” O’Neal said of the Lakers’ legacy of centers. “We made it to the Finals that one year. That was good, but it wasn’t as good as them yet. Because in my mind I’m like, ‘Wilt’s got two [titles], Kareem’s got six and I have none.'”
From Jabari Davis, Lakers Nation: Earlier this season, I wrote what some would consider to be a ‘scathing’ article about Shaquille O’Neal’s seeminglypersonal issues with newly-acquired superstar big man, Dwight Howard. As I stated in the previous article, honest assessments and criticisms are entirely fair and precisely what we tune in to TNT’s Inside The NBA for. Unfortunately, it didn’t seem to be what was taking place at the time, and I was immediately concerned with how things would play out during O’Neal’s eventual jersey retirement ceremony.
From Kurt Helin, Pro Basketball Talk: When Kobe Bryant got ring number five, he couldn’t hide his glee at having more rings than his rival Shaquille O’Neal — he talked about it in his press conference minutes after the game ended. Now, on the day the Lakers will retire Shaquille O’Neal’s jersey, Kobe told Marc Spears of Yahoo that he likes to remind the big man who has more hardware.“I always remind him every time I see him,” Bryant, who’s won five championships with the Lakers, told Yahoo! Sports. “I saw him after the All-Star Game and said, ‘How you doing, ‘Four’ ?’ He said, ‘Oh, you [expletive].’ [Our relationship is] really good now. We have such a mutual respect for each other.”
From Dave McMenamin, ESPN LA: When the Los Angeles Lakers welcomed Dwight Howard to the practice facility for the first time this summer, general manager Mitch Kupchak pointed out the window of his office to the retired jerseys over the court and said he wanted Howard to be recognized there someday. Another “Superman” will already be up there if that happens for Howard. The Lakers are retiring Shaquille O’Neal’s No. 34 during their game against the Dallas Mavericks on Tuesday. While Howard and O’Neal have publicly traded barbs in the past, including Howard saying O’Neal was “done” and “it’s time to move on” after O’Neal had criticized him at the beginning of training camp this season, Howard had nothing but praise for O’Neal on this occasion.