It would have been easy for there to be a bit of animosity between new Los Angeles Laker teammatesJaVale McGee and Dwight Howard to start the season. Brought in as a late free agency addition and presumed to challenge McGee for his newly minted starting spot, Howard has instead blended in with the 2019-20 Lakers seamlessly. McGee and Dwight have combined to provide some excellent play at center for the Lakers as both men have thrived in their own right so far.
Lakers’ Dwight Howard & JaVale McGee Bonded Thanks to Shaq
Dwight shared a hilarious story on Danny Green‘s podcast, breaking down how he and JaVale McGee actually ended up bonding as Laker teammates.
Transcript courtesy of Anthony Irwin
Sanford: Dwight, you said you and JaVale talked about Shaq…
Howard: “We did. I asked him, I was like ‘hey, did you want to fight Shaq?’ He was like ‘man I did, man!’ I was like ‘man I did too,’ but I was like ‘there’s two things we’ve got to worry about. He’s a cop, so if we hurt him we’re going to jail. And two, if Shaq gets ahold of us, it’s over with… You’ve got to hit him and move, because if not? If Shaq gets you? It’s over with.’ (laughs)
“We talked about that, we laughed about a good 30 minutes, just talking about Shaq and all the things he said about us. But you know what it kind of did? It kind of kept us grounded, but it also made us realize, all right… Every night we step in the gym, on the court, whatever we’re doing, let’s go 110% because we don’t want somebody like this, or anybody ever questioning who we are as basketball players and men.”
According to Howard, the mutual disdain for Laker legend Shaquille O’Neal was a driving force behind the friendship for the two big men. Howard and Shaq notoriously feuded while Howard was on the Magic and during his initial stint on the Lakers. Viewed as the up and comer to eventually take the throne from Shaq, the big diesel didn’t take kindly to the comparisons and took nearly every opportunity to trash Howard. McGee has notoriously feuded with the Hall of Fame big man as well, getting into a Twitter war after constantly being the butt of his on-air jokes.
Dwight Howard & JaVale McGee Combining to Give Lakers Dominant Center Play
Though both Howard and McGee aren’t playing anywhere close to starters minutes, they are combining to give the Lakers an excellent two-way force at the center spot. Combined the two are averaging 36 minutes per game while pouring in 12.7 points, 12.3 rebounds, and 2.7 blocks per game. Both men share some similar skillsets – though Howard offers a bit more of a presence on the boards – and allow the Lakers to ensure that whoever is the last line of defense protecting the rim has fresh legs. While this has worked out well so far, it should start to pay major dividends later in the year when the fatigue of a long season starts to set in.