Independence, Ohio Shaquille O’Neal worked on his kickboxing with Cavaliers teammate Anderson Varejao as the two traded playful jabs following practice.
Once talk turned to Orlando coach Stan Van Gundy and Magic superstar Dwight Howard, though, O’Neal put the gloves away. While playing for Phoenix last season, O’Neal was critical of both, mocking Howard’s use of the nickname “Superman” while calling Van Gundy “a master of panic.”
O’Neal wasn’t going to get drawn back into the verbal spats. Cleveland travels to Orlando on Wednesday in a rematch of last year’s Eastern Conference finals, which the Magic won in six games.
“My only concern is winning championships. I’m not worried about all that other stuff,” O’Neal said on Monday. “I’ve been there, done that. My only concern is how many championships I can win.”
Cleveland acquired O’Neal over the summer in part to deal with Howard, who punished the Cavaliers in the playoffs. O’Neal said at his introductory news conference the Cavaliers would no longer have to double team Howard, something he reiterated on Monday. Coach Mike Brown isn’t so sure.
“That’s Shaq’s idea of the game plan,” Brown said.
O’Neal credits himself as being the original Superman upon entering the league in 1992 and blasted Howard’s use of the nickname last year.
“I can’t be impressed by something I invented,” O’Neal said at the time. “I mean, you look at what he is doing, I’ve been there and done that. Every street he is driving down in Orlando, I have been on that street. Every nightclub, every restaurant — I have been there and done that.”
O’Neal was more complimentary Monday when he called Howard a pretty good player.
“He’s young, agile and active,” O’Neal said, “but nothing I haven’t seen before.”