Houston Rockets center Dwight Howard responded to Hall of Famer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's criticism that he does not have a high enough basketball IQ to be a great player.
"Dwight is an extraordinary athlete and has incredible athletic ability, but basketball is a game where the most important muscle that you use on the court is the one between your ears," Abdul-Jabbar said on ESPN's "First Take" show Thursday. "Dwight's basketball IQ is not up to speed for him to be a dominant player."
Howard, who signed with the Rockets this summer after one forgettable season with the Los Angeles Lakers, defended himself.
"You can't win three Defensive Player of the Year trophies and be stupid. That can't be done," he told the Houston Chronicle. "And I don't think any coach that has ever coached me has said I have a low IQ for basketball.
"Have I done some dumb stuff on the floor? Yes, every player has. Have I done some stupid things in life? Yes, it's life. We make mistakes and learn from them. It is what it is. I think I am very intelligent when it comes to the game of basketball. I have been playing since I was 3 years old. Each year, I get a little smarter.
"People will have something to say. Is what it is. I'm in (Houston) now. This city has my back and we are going to ride together."
Howard, a seven-time All-Star, has averaged 18.3 points, 12.9 rebounds and 2.2 blocks over a nine-year career. He made it to the NBA Finals in 2009 against the Lakers when he was a member of the Orlando Magic.
Abdul-Jabbar, a six-time MVP with six NBA titles, averaged 24.6 points, 11.2 rebounds and 2.6 blocks over a 20-year career.
The Lakers had high expectations for Howard when he joined the Lakers last season, but injuries and a first-round playoff ouster cemented a brief and disappointing stint in Los Angeles.
"When I joined the Lakers I was the greatest center. When I left, I was the worst," Howard said. "Mentally, I wasn't capable of playing center. I understand a lot of things are said out of emotion. I will say, if he has anything to say, I am here in Houston. We can talk man to man. That's how I feel."
Howard said he spoke to Abdul-Jabbar once in Los Angeles and asked that they not talk about basketball.
"There is no need for me to go back and forth with him," Howard said. "One thing I would say is that he is old enough to where whatever I do shouldn't even matter. He is Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. If I'm Kareem, I'm like why? Four championships, five championships, whatever. I've been in Airplane and done movies with Bruce Lee. I am not worried about the young whippersnapper.
"I wish him good luck. People do things different and when I am done playing, I will do what I can to help the younger generations."