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Rick Pitino on Louisville loss: We shot free throws like Shaq and Dwight Howard

Louisville lost its second straight tough game in a row on Tuesday night, this time at the hands of Villanova. Over the weekend, the Cardinals lost a tough home game to No. 6-ranked Syracuse. However, the Wildcats are a team they should have beaten. Had they been more successful from the charity stripe, Rick Pitino’s team may have come away with a win.

Louisville hit only 12 of its 24 free throw attempts, and Pitino was livid about it after the game. So livid, in fact, that he decided to take it out on Shaquille O’Neal and Dwight Howard.

“It was really a simple answer to why we lost,” Pitino told reporters, via the Courier-Journal. “Basically we were Dwight Howard or Shaquille O’Neal. We came down we had a six-point lead and it could have been eight. Could have kept coming down and extending it but our free throws were a turnover. Very simple answer for why we lost. Our foul shooting was despicable.”

The final score was 73-64, so obviously the free throws the Cardinals missed were crucial. Louisville missed the front end of a one-and-one on two occasions down the stretch, which made it incredibly difficult to close out a game that they led in the second half. At one point, forward Chane Behanan missed five free throws in a row.

The Cardinals has lost two games since being ranked No. 1 in the nation, and they have not gotten off to a good start in Big East play. If they don’t solve their free-throw shooting woes going forward, they’ll be in danger of falling even further.

Chest bump to The Dagger

Shaq on Hakeem Olajuwon: He’s the only player I couldn’t intimidate

shaq hakeemShaquille O’Neal was able to dominate every center whom he faced during his career except for one: Hakeem Olajuwon.

The Dream turned 50 on Monday, so TNT’s “Inside the NBA” ran a tribute to the Houston Rockets legend. Following the piece, which showed Olajuwon mentoring and training select big men, Shaq was full of praise for the man who outplayed him.

“Hakeem Olajuwon was the only guy that I couldn’t intimidate,” Shaq said of Hakeem.

Shaq then talked about his intimidation tactics and how they didn’t work on Olajuwon.

“When I would say something, if you say something back, I had you. If I [elbow] you and you complain, I had you,” Shaq explained.

“Right before the (1995) finals — we had beaten Houston twice that year in Houston and in Orlando — Hakeem was good, but I didn’t know that he was that good. I was in my own zone and wasn’t really worried about anybody else. First play of the game, I gave him the patented Shaq ‘bow, jump hook, 2-0. He just smiled at me. And then he came down and gave me [a move], shot a jumper and said, ‘right back at you, Big Fella.’

“So I came down and did it again, but I could never get to him. I could never intimidate him.”

Shaq then went on to explain how the variety in Olajuwon’s moves made him so difficult to guard.

“He’s a guy that you couldn’t study. Like Alonzo (Mourning) and Patrick (Ewing) and all the Georgetown guys, they would fake left and go hard right with that dumb, running jump hook. Hakeem Olajuwon, he would go left, he would go right, so you really couldn’t study for him. The best defense was put your hands up and hope he misses.”

Olajuwon won two titles during his career, and they came in back-to-back seasons when Michael Jordan took time off to purse a professional baseball career. He was toward the prime of his career when he squared off against Shaq in the ’95 finals. Shaq was still young and much thinner back then. Though Shaq would lose in those finals, he went on to win four titles.

Shaq didn’t have many players who could stop him during his career. Hakeem was probably the only big man ever who got the best of him. Now that Shaq’s retired, it’s nice to see him recognize that.

We’ll also leave you with this classic Taco Bell commercial between Shaq and Hakeem that played on the rivalry between them:

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Shaq, Whitlock to rumble in six months?

Ladies and gentlemen, it looks like we may have to set up a fight date for Shaq and Jason Whitlock.

Matters between the two got started on NBA opening night Tuesday when Whitlock, a columnist for FOXSports.com, said Shaq was out of shape. The former All-NBA center and current TNT NBA analyst responded by challenging Whitlock to a fight.

Not only did Whitlock not back down, but he wrote a column in response touting his credentials as a street fighter and former football player.

Shaq wasn’t about to back down from his initial challenge, and Whitlock isn’t tapping out, either.

Shaq said on “Inside the NBA” Thursday that he wanted to fight Whitlock next week. The Big Fella agreed to fight in six months after Whitlock said he wanted that much time to train for the bout.

Things are so far along that Shaq received an offer from former heavyweight champion boxer Lennox Lewis to train, much to Whitlock’s disappointment:

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Shaq challenges Jason Whitlock to a fight

Former NBA All-Star center and current TNT NBA analyst Shaquille O’Neal responded to a tweet about his weight from FOXSports.com’s Jason Whitlock by challenging the writer to a fight.

Whitlock sent the following tweet to “Inside the NBA” before Tuesday’s season-opening game between the Boston Celtics and Miami Heat began:

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Shaq believes Brook Lopez is a better center than Dwight Howard

Anyone who follows basketball can tell you that Shaquille O’Neal is not a member of the Dwight Howard fan club. In fact, Shaq pretty much hates Dwight. Perhaps he is threatened by Howard’s talent and the fact that he is following directly in his footsteps by starting with the Magic and going to the Lakers. Whatever the case, O’Neal recently criticized Howard’s game once again and said he would take Brook Lopez over him as a center.

“We as players, we always watch people before us,” Shaq said during an NBA.com roundtable discussion last week, according to ESPN.com. “When I came in it was Patrick Ewing and Hakeem Olajuwon, guys who played like true centers who played inside. What we have now are centers that are going to the European style, which is a lot of pick-and-roll. Dwight Howard, who’s a pick-and-roll player, some people say he’s the best center in the league, but me being an old-school center, I’m going to go with Robin Lopez and Andrew Bynum because they play with their back to the basket.”

Of course, Shaq was referring to Nets center Brook Lopez but said “same thing” when corrected.

“Like if you want to go to go to flash and dunking and the pick and roll, you gotta go with Dwight Howard,” he continued. “But me, the last true original dundaughta (slang for big timer), I’m going with Andrew Bynum and which Lopez? Brook. Brook Lopez.”

Yawn. I’m not a Howard fan by any means, but listening to Shaq toot his own horn while downplaying Dwight’s ability is exhausting. Whether it’s the fact that Howard has had to face less double teams or that the competition around the league isn’t as steep, Shaq can’t seem to stop patting himself on the back. And now he’s the original “dundaughta?” Give me a break.

Chest bump to Black Sports Online

Shaq told son’s team he would take them to Hooters if they won the championship

There are a number of different ways an adult’s message to a group of children could be lost in translation, but Hooters is universal. Shaquille O’Neal claims he once proved that as he was coaching his young son’s team to a championship victory. On Thursday night in New York, Shaq was honored as one of the “Fathers of the Year.” During his speech, he gave a couple of examples of times in which his great parenting skills were put to use.

“We made it all the way to the championship game,” Shaq explained according to Sports Illustrated. “We were down by eight with two minutes left. So I gave the only speech I could think to give. I said, ‘If we win this, I’ll take you to Hooters.’ And we won by six, so I guess it worked!”

Shaq has six kids, so he knows a little something about what motivates children. He also has four NBA championship rings, so he knows quite a bit about winning big games as well. The effectiveness of motivational speeches may vary from young children to professional athletes, but Hooters speaks to everyone. Who doesn’t like delicious wings and — well, you know. And if you can’t trust a massive guy who does stuff like this, who can you trust?

H/T Prep Rally
Photo credit: Kim Klement-US PRESSWIRE

Shaq dances with a cardboard cutout of a female Charles Barkley (Video)

We knew there was a reason Shaq was added to the outstanding TNT “Inside the NBA” pregame/postgame show, and it’s not because of his superior basketball analysis and insight. Oh no, it’s specifically for the comedic value he adds and goofy stunts he does, like the one seen above.

How can you watch Shaq pull out a cutout of Weight Watchers Charles Barkley in drag and dance with it for nearly a full minute while singing to “Scatman” and not laugh? It’s impossible. Hilarious stuff.

Chest bump I am a GM