Shaquille O'Neal believes his dominance led to the evolution of big men
Shaq says he's the most dominant big man in history, followed by Wilt
When Shaquille O'Neal was inducted into the Hall of Fame in September, Kobe Bryant offered high praise while congratulating his former Lakers teammate. Bryant called O'Neal "the most dominant big of all time," which is what Shaq has called himself.
It is an apt description. O'Neal was an absolute beast in the low post during his prime years, and has a long list of career accolades and accomplishments to prove it, culminating with his Hall of Famer induction.
"I am the most dominant ever," O'Neal told CBS Sports while promoting American Express' Shop Small for 2X Rewards offer "Wilt is second. Period. Said by Dr. O'Neal, Hall-of-Famer."
Critics will of course challenge O'Neal's claim. Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant and LeBron James can be brought up in the conversation of dominant players. But in terms of big men, it is hard to pick against O'Neal.
"I'm only talking from the big man position," O'Neal says. "It's hard to compare a Jordan and a Shaq, a Kobe and a Shaq. So you have to compare similar type players. So when it comes to that dominating center position, it goes me, Wilt and then I don't know who would come after that."
There likely won't be another player like O'Neal. Even his own son and one of the top high school players in the country, Shareef O'Neal, plays differently than his father. The NBA is evolving as well, with big men becoming extremely versatile, able to play in the post and on the perimeter. Consequently, O'Neal's claim as the most dominant big man may never be challenged. Players just don't bang down low as often as they did during O'Neal's heyday.
"The game has definitely changed," O'Neal said. "Some people call it evolved. Us traditional big men, we used to go down and play in the paint. But to each his own. Whatever is going to get you that next level. If you are a great shooter, then go ahead and step out and shoot."
With less focus on back-to-the-basket big men and defensive-rules changes, games are less grind it out and more free flowing. Some older players often lament these changes and love to talk about how the league was more competitive and better when they played. O'Neal, however, sees the evolution of big men as a product of his dominance.
A humble brag. for sure. But he has a point.
"I think the big men now are products of their environments," O'Neal said. "They've seen a lot of guys before them step out and shoot jumpers. Cause when I was just battling everybody [in the post] and making everybody step out and shoot jumpers, they thought that was the way to slow me down. [Forcing] me to guarding them when they stepped out. I guess the kids now, are looking at that and are doing the same thing."
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