Dwight Howard opens up on LeBron, Shaq and Josh’s wedding (sssh)

Dwight Howard joked with the kids to not ask about LeBron James (but he talked about him later).

Dwight Howard joked with the kids to not ask about LeBron James (but he talked about him later).

Dwight Howard was back in his hometown Friday, thrilling a group of kids from the Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Atlanta who had no idea the Orlando Magic star and Atlanta native was coming for lunch. But before he took questions, he had one request.

“Please, no questions about the Miami Heat,” he said. “I was just over in China for two weeks and that’s all I heard: ‘What do you think about LeBron?’”

Nonetheless, Howard granted this corner of the blogosphere a few minutes to discuss a few items of interest to Atlanta fans: The Heat, the Hawks and Shaquille O’Neal.

In the process, he also let something slip: The Hawks’ Josh Smith, his childhood friend, is getting married.The reason I know this is because when I asked Howard how long he was in town for, he said, “Until Sunday. Josh is getting married tomorrow night and I’m the best man at his wedding.”

Howard smiled and suddenly suffered from memory loss when asked specifics about the wedding. But a Hawks official confirmed Smith, who has been in a long-term relationship with Alexandria Lopez, is getting married at an Atlanta hotel Saturday night.

OK, enough with the People magazine stuff. Here’s Howard on some hoop issues. You should be able to pick up on some sarcasm early

♦ On LeBron James’ signing show on ESPN: “I was in Atlanta at the time, watching it. The Decision. The Presidential Decision, 2010. Yeah.”

♦ On fans conceding the Eastern Conference to the Heat, following the free agent signings of James and Chris Bosh and the re-signing of Dwyane Wade: “We don’t think about it like that. They’ve still got to play games. It looks good on paper. It looks good playing a video game. But this is real life. We’re looking forward to playing them. They’re going to be a real good team but that doesn’t mean they’re going to win a championship.”

♦ On whether Shaquille O’Neal can still play: “He’s still a big body. He’s different than he was back in the day but he’s still big. He can be a great fit for a team to help them win. I think his presence in the locker room will be needed more than anything at this point in his career. If he would embrace whatever team he’s on, he has a lot of knowledge and he could help a team grow.”

♦ On whether O’Neal would be a good fit for the Hawks: “I don’t know. I like their lineup now. I know a lot of people get mad and say they’re not big on the inside, but they’re a big team. They’ve got big guards. They’ve got big forwards. They’ve got a flying forward [Smith]. So it doesn’t really matter about having a seven-footer.

♦ On the belief by some that the Hawks need Shaq to get past Magic: “That’s only four games out of the season. You have to look long term and what’s best for your team. Cleveland got Shaq to match up with the Magic. They also got Antawn Jamison to match up with the Magic. But they didn’t even play the Magic. They played Boston [and lost]. You match up for the league, not just one team.”

One final thing before we jump to the comments about LeBron and Shaq. The Big Brothers and Big Sisters are celebrating their 50th anniversary in Atlanta and I wanted to give them some recognition. They have 3,200 successful matches in a 12-county area and are looking for 800 more. If you can help out, they can be reached at 404-601-7000 and at bbbsatl.org.

OK, so what do you think about Howard’s comments on Shaq, LeBron and the Hawks?

Also, who wants to go in with me on candlesticks for Josh?

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Follow me on Twitter @JeffSchultzAJC and Facebook.com/JeffSchultzAJC

100 comments Add your comment

Mr. Roboto

July 30th, 2010
2:49 pm

Nice report there, Schultzie.

I thought Dwight’s comments about Shaq were quite polite and measured, considering how Shaq ripped him earlier this year. I’m sure Shaq’s response to hearing what he said, though, would be something along the lines of “he just doesn’t want to face me. He can’t match up with the Big Broken-down Diesel Rusted Man of Steel.” Or something like that.

Dawgsfan1990

July 30th, 2010
2:51 pm

Shaw would at least put some butts in the seats.

Dawgsfan1990

July 30th, 2010
2:52 pm

Err Shaq that is. Stupid auto spell!

Jeff Schultz

July 30th, 2010
2:55 pm

Mr. Roboto — I think there are 3 possibilities regarding Shaq’s comments: 1) He’s telling the truth; 2) He’s not telling the truth because he doesn’t want the Hawks to get him; 3) What you said. Supposedly two never have been best of friends.

Mr. Roboto

July 30th, 2010
2:55 pm

Yeah, I don’t think Brian Shaw even on his best day would bring ‘em in. He was a great backup to Penny Hardaway back in the day, though.

Mr. Roboto

July 30th, 2010
2:57 pm

Well, wasn’t there a big deal about how Howard idolized him growing up and was hurt, shocked, and humiliated when Shaq started criticizing him? (Of course, all this crap gets so overblown by ESPN, it’s hard to tell what’s actually going on.)

Jeff Schultz

July 30th, 2010
2:59 pm

All I know is Shaq burned a lot of bridges in Orlando and Miami. Actually, also in L.A. Duh.

Show me state

July 30th, 2010
3:02 pm

Congrats to j-smoove….

Mr. Roboto

July 30th, 2010
3:04 pm

Maybe there’s a kind of passing the torch thing going on here. Being a Spurs fan, I seem to recall Shaq being supposedly hurt, shocked, and humiliated by David Robinson, whom Shaq admired as a high school basketball star (in San Antonio). The behavior? The Spurs feeding David Robinson the ball on almost every possession on the last game of the year to get him the scoring title.

Mr. Roboto

July 30th, 2010
3:04 pm

…the scoring title over Shaq I should have said.

NCBravesFan

July 30th, 2010
3:15 pm

Dwight comes across as a really gracious guy. Perhaps I’m reading too much into his remarks about Shaq and embracing whatever team he’s on – it sounds like a jab, diplomatically delivered.

And I agree with him about the Heat. The games are decided on the court, not on ESPN by the so-called experts.

Stuart

July 30th, 2010
3:16 pm

If the Hawks aren’t going to spend much more money, are they still in pursuit of a decent, effective big man?

Mr. Roboto

July 30th, 2010
3:17 pm

Jeff– any way you can work in a discussion of the Dunning-Kruger effect and Thrashers management? (See this link: http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/06/20/the-anosognosics-dilemma-1/).

And now I’ve got to stop screwing around and actually do some work!

ryan

July 30th, 2010
3:25 pm

I am hearing Boston is really pushing hard for Shaq or Kwame Brown because of Perkins i suppose the Hawks are still interested in Shaq but at this point it looks dead .

Barnacle Bill Bavasi

July 30th, 2010
3:32 pm

I wish the Hawks had Dwight Howard. Great guy, great player.

Clay

July 30th, 2010
3:32 pm

You never know what a new coach can do in regards to schemes and matchups to have better results vs the Magic.

Mike is back

July 30th, 2010
3:34 pm

Shultz, Good blog, nice to hear Josh is settling down…DH is wise to devalue the addition of The Big Fella Show…cuz he knows…Shaq would be a great fit for the Hawks.

The Hawks can easily use…all of the aforementioned things Howard said that Shaq…brings to a team. Will the Hawks make that move…who knows?
However, Great Stuff.

Going soft on us hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.

Bubba Big Lips

July 30th, 2010
3:42 pm

hawks gone be good

Grady Jackson *Barber Shop*

July 30th, 2010
3:42 pm

.
Nesbitt for Heisman
.

Michael

July 30th, 2010
3:54 pm

Still amazed that Joe Johnson and Chris Bosh make the same money (or abouts) as Dwight Howard, Lebron James, Kobe, and other real superstars.

And you know Wade will get injured since it IS the NBA.

Shaq’s done as far as being a force of nature. He’s just big as Dwight Howard said.

Asheville Dawg

July 30th, 2010
3:59 pm

My guess the Atlanta Spirit Group will sit on their wallets. They have off another free agent year. Oh, unless you count the signing of Joe Johnson, the $120 million dollar man. Really, maybe Belkin should win his lawsuit after all. And where is that lawsuit anyway?

Kapoonka

July 30th, 2010
4:06 pm

Dwight you’re a class act, and being diplomatic will favor you mightily as you go through your blessed life. Kudos for not throwing jabs..great responses to all questions, and accurate on all acconts.. Let him be Superman,mand you can be called “Bigger Man” On another note If someone signs Shaq, he is going to make a statement with his play….I think T.O (I know different sport) will do the same thing with Cincy.

niremetal

July 30th, 2010
4:14 pm

On the belief by some that the Hawks need Shaq to get past Magic: “That’s only four games out of the season. You have to look long term and what’s best for your team. Cleveland got Shaq to match up with the Magic. They also got Antawn Jamison to match up with the Magic. But they didn’t even play the Magic. They played Boston [and lost]. You match up for the league, not just one team.”

It’s amazing how often GMs panic and lose sight of that basic math. Steve Kerr and Danny Ferry both fell into the trap of trading for Shaq because they thought it would help them beat one particular team (the Spurs for Phoenix and the Magic for Cleveland). Teams kept trading for Dikembe for the same reason 7-9 years ago (thinking that he’d stop Shaq). It never worked.

If you let one team dictate the way you construct your roster, you’ve already conceded defeat IMHO. The strategy should be to build the best team overall and try to force other teams to adjust to you, not adjust yourself to other teams. For an underdog team, that’s always been the only conceivable path to contention.

Who?

July 30th, 2010
4:17 pm

Nedsbutt for Heinzman

Just Being Real

July 30th, 2010
4:19 pm

Somewhere deep down inside, I’m hoping Josh and Dwight are thinking about forming a super team for their hometown…

bigdave

July 30th, 2010
4:31 pm

should’ve asked him if he ever imagines/thought of teaming up with his best friend..

TheAntiMe

July 30th, 2010
4:46 pm

I respectfully disagree with Mr. Howard as the Hawks need a 6′11″ or taller center. Nice try Dwight but being that you are the center for an arch-nemesis within the Hawks division, I believe the total opposite of what you suggest.

That’s sort of like asking Cole Hamels who he would rather pitch to, Nate McLouth or Albert Pujols. Dwight Howard is obviously going to opt for facing Nate McLouth instead of Pujols.

just SHOOT me

July 30th, 2010
5:01 pm

Hopefully Smith’s wife will keep him in check and not give ANY up if he attempts to shoot the ball outside of the 17-18 foot range. LoL. Good luck to Josh and his new wife. Hope it works out better than the Hawks season will next year. 5th or 6th seed. Done in the first round or swept in the 2nd round. Guaranteed. Sad, sad, SAD!

Ted Striker

July 30th, 2010
5:04 pm

If Larry Drew gets Josh Smith to play to potential, convinces (max contract) JJ to buy in to a new philosophy, and develops Jeff Teague, I’m not sure the roster needs an overhaul.

That’s a lot of “ifs”, but the outcomes of life and lotto and love and lust are all predicated upon “ifs” lining up.

Randolph Morris

July 30th, 2010
5:11 pm

What TheAntiMe said, albeit in more direct terms: of course Dwight likes our Hawks lineup, when his team routinely beats the ever-living CRAP out of us, including a record-setting playoff margin-of-defeat series last year…I wish I could help…

tyger

July 30th, 2010
5:12 pm

Sure, its only 4 games a year, but 4-7 more in the playoffs, that’s 8-11 significant games. It is a big deal.

Real Talk

July 30th, 2010
5:15 pm

Shaq is old as crap, but the hawks need somebody who will play at least 18-minutes per game, knows how to get into people’s heads by being a distraction, and has size. His height will bring extra boards, which means extra shot attempts, which will possibly mean more points. But Dwight is right about match-ups. Atlanta beat Boston this year, Cleveland Beat LA everytime they played this year, but Boston smashed Cleveland, and LA luckily because Perkins was injured beat Boston. It’s all about match-ups. Design your team for the league. Now getting Shaq will not be just for the Magic, It will be for the entire league. Atl needs height regardless. Orlando has height, LA basically has three 7-footers, Boston has height, Cleveland had height, all of these successful teams had that formula that included a big man. What makes Atl so different? The other thing Atl needs is a leader. Joe Johnson get nervous as crap in tough situations. Shaq can provide that leadership. He has a lot of cockyness no doubt, but he still can step in and be a leader. Nuff said, if you dont agree, kick rocks and go jump off a bridge, who cares……and im out..

Real Talk

July 30th, 2010
5:17 pm

Trade that dude Marvin and Mike Bibby for somebody of quality. Bibby is washed up, does not play defense and Marvin Williams is a total and complete bust. Gosh, which idiot passed up on Chris Paul to pick this kid. Ultimate fail of the decade in Atlanta.

Real Talk

July 30th, 2010
5:19 pm

Yes Shaq is old as the ten commandments, but the hawks need somebody who will play at least 18-minutes per game, knows how to get into people’s heads by being a distraction, and has size. His height will bring extra boards, which means extra shot attempts, which will possibly mean more points.

But Dwight is right about match-ups. Atlanta beat Boston this year, Cleveland Beat LA everytime they played this year, but Boston smashed Cleveland, and LA luckily because Perkins was injured beat Boston. It’s all about match-ups. Design your team for the league. Now getting Shaq will not be just for the Magic, It will be for the entire league. Atl needs height regardless. Orlando has height, LA basically has three 7-footers, Boston has height, Cleveland had height, all of these successful teams had that formula that included a big man.

What makes Atl so different? The other thing Atl needs is a leader. Joe Johnson get nervous as crap in tough situations. Shaq can provide that leadership. He has a lot of cockyness no doubt, but he still can step in and be a leader. Nuff said…………….

SmithJosh

July 30th, 2010
5:20 pm

Shaq is old as crap, but the hawks need somebody who will play at least 18-minutes per game, knows how to get into people’s heads by being a distraction, and has size. His height will bring extra boards, which means extra shot attempts, which will possibly mean more points.

But Dwight is right about match-ups. Atlanta beat Boston this year, Cleveland Beat LA everytime they played this year, but Boston smashed Cleveland, and LA luckily because Perkins was injured beat Boston. It’s all about match-ups. Design your team for the league. Now getting Shaq will not be just for the Magic, It will be for the entire league. Atl needs height regardless. Orlando has height, LA basically has three 7-footers, Boston has height, Cleveland had height, all of these successful teams had that formula that included a big man. What makes Atl so different? The other thing Atl needs is a leader. Joe Johnson get nervous as crap in tough situations. Shaq can provide that leadership. He has a lot of cockyness no doubt, but he still can step in and be a leader. Nuff said, if you dont agree, kick rocks and go jump off a bridge, who cares……and im out..

All I'm Saying...

July 30th, 2010
5:31 pm

Dwight is smart: he knows that Shaq with the Hawks would make life even more difficult for the Magic, which may not be the best NBA team in Florida let alone the Eastern Conference. Given everything else that’s happened (or not happened depending on your perspective of Sund’s actions), Hawks need to sign Shaq more than ever. ShaqFu has at least one more good year in him and that’s all we need.

LET’S GO HAWKS!

lou

July 30th, 2010
5:36 pm

can we get a pic of josh’s bride? dude makes 10 mil a year i hope she is 10mil wife material

MsDee

July 30th, 2010
6:02 pm

D Howard, for some reason, doesnt look that much taller than those kids..lol

NBA

July 30th, 2010
6:03 pm

Who gives a s–t why this piece of crap is in town? He’s a dirty player who no one cares about.

MsDee

July 30th, 2010
6:04 pm

If Shaq was some what still in his prime, he probably would come to the Hawks for little to nothing just to show up Miami and D Howard in our division. But since he knows he can’t compete like he use to, he ‘wants more money to play in Atlanta’.

I agree

July 30th, 2010
6:19 pm

@ MsDee

LOL…That is so true!!

Najeh Davenpoop

July 30th, 2010
6:25 pm

“All I know is Shaq burned a lot of bridges in Orlando and Miami. Actually, also in L.A. Duh”

Bridges remaining intact only matters if you plan to cross them in the future. If Shaq helps the Hawks beat Orlando in the playoffs and get farther than they have been thus far. he can be as much of an azzhole as he wants on his way out. It’s not like the Hawks are going to pursue him again in 10 years. His previous teams may not like him now, but I bet they like the wins and ticket sales (and in two cases, championships) that he brought to their respective franchises.

Big Daddy

July 30th, 2010
6:25 pm

First, let me congratulate J-Smoove on his nuptuals. I wish only the best for him and his bride. I think it is great that the two of them who have known each other for so long are still close and Dwight agreed to be his best man.

That said, I agree with him and niremetal. You go for good team chemistry that functions well and depth. This will get you to the championship. Boston won without having a dominent center so did the Pistons and most recently the Lakers, although Bynum is beginning to assert himself. Hopefully, with the changes made the Hawks will be a better team. I would like to believe that being cheap wasn’t the only reason major roster changes weren’t made. We had a 53 win team last year so probably we don’t need major changes and possibly in the new system, Marvin will have a chance to do the things he does well. With fewer isloation plays and more people involved we may very well have the explosive team we have wanted. GO HAWKS!!! And, Dwight enjoy yourself and remember, we will be coming for you soon.

Najeh Davenpoop

July 30th, 2010
6:28 pm

“I wish the Hawks had Dwight Howard. Great guy, great player.”

I agree. Blame Terry Stotts.

Blast

July 30th, 2010
7:03 pm

Congratulations to Josh Smith. Maybe getting married will simmer him down more, finally mature him up.

Dwight is trying to pull a fast one. If Hawks can get Shaq on their terms, then they need to do it.

Blast

July 30th, 2010
7:06 pm

Rest In Peace, Lorenzen Wright.

Roast in hell, his killers.

Stewie

July 30th, 2010
7:16 pm

Shaq. Is. Done.

Heck, if all you want is somebody to teach this bunch how to win, bring in Bill Russell. He knows more about basketball and winning than Shaq (or anyone else, for that matter) ever will.

If you want an upgrade at center, fine, but check the stats…Shaq is at best a middle of the pack center these days.

lou

July 30th, 2010
7:21 pm

Lorenzen wright played here for many of the losing years.. always seemed like a good fellow.. feel bad for his mother and kids.. rip lorenzen wright.. played a lot with our current starting unit guys so im sure the wedding tonight will be a little bittersweet

The Fire Rick Sund Express!!!

July 30th, 2010
8:34 pm

How much longer to the day when mark under achieve richt gets fired. Will it be on the same day that Rick, I experimenting with center-less basketball , gets fire? How about a 2 for 1 sale…..?

The Fire Rick Sund Express!!!

July 30th, 2010
8:35 pm

How about a picture of his wife or a link El Journalist?