After all this time, everybody still falls for Shaq’s Don Rickles act.

I mean, everyone: Shaq’s intended target, the media, the fans.

O’Neal said when he broke into the league making outrageous statements and jabbing opponents that it was all “entertainment.”

Like pro wrestling, he said.

He hasn’t changed a bit. Shtick still works.

He’s still providing fodder, mixing things up with his over-the-top opinions.

Shaq still has a voice as a basketball analyst – and uses it to zing, rip and crack on people. Just like he did when he played (remember Shaq referring to Chris Bosh as "the RuPaul of big men."?) So he continues to throw barbs, especially Dwight Howard’s way, and everyone takes the bait.

The latest: Shaq says Andrew Bynum and Brook Lopez (Brook Lopez!) are better inside players than Dwight.

“I don't care what Shaq says," Howard said recently, although he clearly does. "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."

Some people were surprised that Howard finally shot back, but it wasn’t the first time. Last January, after O’Neal said Bynum was the best center, Dwight went after The Big Tweaker, telling him “to get a life.”

It was suggested that perhaps Howard and O’Neal, Magic and Lakers centers past and present, need to patch things up.

"What do we need to be on the same page for?" Howard said. "I have respect for him and what he did for basketball. That's it. When my time is up, there's going to be somebody else who can do everything I can do and probably do it better. Instead of me talking about him, I'll do my job to try to help him get to where I'm at. I think that's what guys who have done it before us should do."

Shaq said Howard lacks an offensive repertoire. It’s an old observation, but starts a media firestorm each time.

"I'm not talking about dunking, I'm talking about playing like a big man with moves," O'Neal  told NBA.com. "My man [Lopez], before he had the foot injury, was putting up nice, solid big man numbers. If you put him with a nice team around him, you can get a lot from this big man. Like if you want to go to flash and dunking and the pick and roll, you gotta go with Dwight Howard. But me, the last true original dun duda, I'm going with Andrew Bynum and [Lopez]."

Brian Schmitz is the Magic Insider for the Orlando Sentinel. You can reach him at bschmitz@tribune.com. And you can follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/@magicinsider.