| Neal retired in 2011.It's a curious choice for Howard, considering the timing. Free agency is coming and it will likely be Howard's last chance to get a huge payday. One would think he'd opt for an agent with more recent experience.
Weirder still is that he listened to O'Neal, one of his harsher critics throughout his career. The four-time NBA champion has called Howard soft and has feuded with him over the nickname "Superman" for years. Apparently, all of that is in the past now. One of the reasons why Howard made his decision is to monetize that moniker together with O'Neal,according to The Vertical's Shams Charania.
O'Neal, a longtime public nemesis of Howard's, had extensive conversations with the Houston center and sold him on the marketing of "Superman" and the representation of Rogers, sources said. The potential of marketing Howard and O'Neal in advertisements together played a role, too, sources said.
In an interview with USA Today's Sam Amick, Howard confirmed that O'Neal approached him. Howard said the possibility of following on Shaq's footsteps had a lot to do with his decision.
"I don't necessarily have an issue with Shaq," Howard said. "People say, 'Well, he's the real Superman and all of this stuff. But that man has had a very good career. ... Why wouldn't anybody want to say, 'I want to be like Shaq,' with all of the stuff that he has accomplished on and off the court, with his personality, all that stuff? (It's) something for anybody to want to look up to."
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