Dwight Howard Admits He Bonded With JaVale McGee Over Their Shared Desire To Punch Shaq In The Face

Zhong Zhi/Getty Images

Imagine being Dwight Howard and not wanting to punch Shaquille O’Neal in the face. How does just one man possibly internalize all that bullying?

There was one point, I think it was after Shaq pejoratively spelled Howard’s name ‘Dwite’ after he’d been in the league for 15 years, that I was tempted to start a GoFundMe like one of those kids who crowdfunds a free trip to Disney because zero classmates showed up to his birthday party. But I squashed that idea when I found out the creator of the GoFundMe account apparently doesn’t even get a cut of the donations? Fuck that racket.

The genesis of their feud, which is still flickering, dates back to the 2008 Slam Dunk Contest when Dwight wore a Superman shirt and cape, spitting in the face of the man who dubbed himself Superman. A decade later, Shaq’s still pretending Dwight Howard doesn’t exist.

Luckily for Dwight, he is now teammates with maybe the only person on the planet who is bullied by Shaq a comparable amount: JaVale McGee.

Shaq has gone full ‘O’Doyle Rules’ on McGee over his proclivity to execute boneheaded plays, so much so that Shaq’s own mother called her son to demand he leave McGee alone.

Howard appeared on Danny Green’s podcast with co-host Harrison Sanford to reveal that he and McGee have commiserated in their mutual hatred of Shaq.

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.” [via Silver Screen & Roll]

Despite the hate throughout the years from the most physically imposing basketball player to ever live, Dwight seems to give Shaq his proper respect. And that’s something I can respect.

It remains to be seen if McGee can ever forgive Shaq for this homicide.

Matt Keohan Avatar
Matt’s love of writing was born during a sixth grade assembly when it was announced that his essay titled “Why Drugs Are Bad” had taken first prize in D.A.R.E.’s grade-wide contest. The anti-drug people gave him a $50 savings bond for his brave contribution to crime-fighting, and upon the bond’s maturity 10 years later, he used it to buy his very first bag of marijuana.