The Magic aren't even a decent team as of now, so trade talks and draft talks are basically the only thing we talk about on these Fanposts. However, let's rewind the clocks back and remember the good ol' days when we use to be elite. Back when we had Shaquille O'Neal, aka Shaq. Back when we had Dwight Howard, aka Superman. So, who was the better franchise face for this magical team?
Drafted in the 1992 NBA Draft, the 7 ft 1, 325 pound center from LSU came into the league with a presence... And a smile. In his first season, basking the sunlight in Orlando, Florida he averaged 23.4 points, 13.9 rebounds, and 3.5 blocks. Off the court, he was big goofball and daytime job rapper. But on the court, he was all business. Blocking every shot he saw, posting up with aggressiveness and pure power, and even though he was heavy, he could dunk with a athletic ability that almost no one could stop. He was a 1993 Rookie of the Year, so he made clear that he was no laughing matter.
Fun fact, in 1994-1995, his third season, O'Neal's 29.3 point average led the NBA in scoring. Also, in 1995, Shaq took us to the NBA Finals, and even though we lost to the Rockets, it was the franchise's first Finals, and we couldn't have done it without him. Obviously, we all know how good Shaq was. One of the best big men ever to enter the NBA, blah blah blah. However, his reign in Orlando wouldn't last more than 4 seasons, as he left in 1996 for the Lakers. I don't think we want to remember this part, so let's move on to Dwight Howard.
Not quite as big as Shaq, he was drafted in the 2004 NBA Draft as the first overall pick, just like Shaq. He measures at 6 ft 11 and 265 pounds. Back at this draft, John Weisbrod, had a huge choice with a first pick in his hands. At the time, Emeka Okafor was a consideration as well as Dwight Howard, but Weisbrod took Howard and it played out very, very well. He never impacted the game like Shaq did his first NBA season, but this kid averaged 12 points, 10 rebounds, and 1.7 blocks a game. No, he didn't win Rookie of the Year, but Dwight did improve as time went on. In the 2010-2011 season, he had a career high in scoring, with 22.9 points and 14.1 rebounds.
The happy, childish center was like a kid off the court, but a man on the court, another comparison to Shaq. However, one thing Shaq didn't do that Dwight did, was win a dunk contest, which Dwight did in 2008. Howard's description in three words is this, "freak of nature". Not as skilled as Shaquille, but much more athletic. Dwight also took us to the Finals in 2009, which was one of the biggest Orlando Magic events ever. Of course, we lost to the Lakers 4-1 then, and ironically, in 2012 Dwight Howard had enough of Orlando (and Orlando had enough of him) and he got traded to the Lakers. It was a Dwightmare, but we can't forget the good days with him, am I right?
Verdict: Shaquille O'Neal
I have to give the edge to Shaq for the best Magic player ever. Dwight Howard is a superstar, and has been dominating this league for 10 years as about now, but he'll never be one of the best big men ever. That's what Shaq is however. He's in the Wilt Chamberlain, Bill Russell, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar category. Although they both left us in unflattering ways, they did put this team on the map. That's why I can't wait for this 2014 NBA Draft. We had Shaquille O'Neal, and Dwight Howard. Now this summer will determine who will be the next "franchise face" for this Magic squad.
Who do you think was the best big for Orlando? Shaq or Dwight?