Shaquille O'Neal says the Clippers' DeAndre Jordan is the best… (Gus Ruelas / Associated…)
Shaquille O'Neal made a somewhat bold proclamation Thursday evening on TNT.
"I’m going on the record," O'Neal said. "Best center in the West right now is DeAndre Jordan. You heard it here first."
It was another subtle dig at Dwight Howard, the Lakers' six-time All-Star who has been verbally clashing with O'Neal all season.
O'Neal previously asserted that Philadelphia's Andrew Bynum and New Jersey's Brook Lopez were better centers than Howard, a comment which peeved Howard.
"I don't care what Shaq says," Howard told reporters in early October. "Shaq played the game and he is done. It's time to move on.
"He hated the fact when he played that older guys were talking about him and how he played. Now he's doing the exact same thing. Just let it go. There's no sense for him to be talking trash to me. He did his thing in the league. Sit back and relax. Your time is up."
Howard, who is recovering from back surgery to repair a herniated disk, is averaging 22.4 points and 9.6 rebounds this season, while Jordan, the Clippers' starting center, is averaging 11.8 points and 7.5 rebounds.
But Jordan has a better shooting percentage than Howard (75% compared with 67.8%) and the two are almost even in blocked shots (2.5 per game for Jordan and 2.4 for Howard), and as of late Jordan has been dominant.
He had 20 points on 10-for-12 shooting, 11 rebounds, four blocked shots and no turnovers against San Antonio on Wednesday, followed by a 21-point performance on eight-for-10 shooting and eight rebounds against Portland on Thursday.
"He's one of our most valuable players," Clippers point guard Chris Paul said of Jordan on Wednesday.