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PRO BASKETBALL DAILY REPORT : LAKERS

O'Neal Respectful Toward Olajuwon

November 12, 1996|SCOTT HOWARD-COOPER

He has traded barbs with David Robinson and been in a running debate with Patrick Ewing over who's "the man." But Shaquille O'Neal feels different about Hakeem Olajuwon.

Olajuwon is the center O'Neal most respects. And their next meeting is tonight, when the Lakers play the Houston Rockets at the Summit.

"If guys want to compare me to a big man, I want to be compared to Hakeem," O'Neal said. "I've seen him play and I've played against him. I've seen Kareem [Abdul-Jabbar] play a couple of times. I never saw Wilt [Chamberlain] play, just the highlights. So if you guys want to compare me to a class act and a great center, Hakeem would be a nice comparison.

"He's a good guy. He was the only one of my favorite players who, when I first came in and did well, never complained. Believe it or not, David Robinson was my favorite player. Then I just came in, did what I had to do and he bad-mouthed me. You have to give credit where credit is due."

Which Olajuwon does.

"I see the way he handles himself," said the Rocket star. "He is such a special, unique player, not like any other player. He is in a unique position and still is humble. He plays hard, he is developing very well and will break all kinds of records. He will set new standards for this era."

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