Friday, December 23rd, 2011 at 4:40 pm  |  16 responses

Shaq Forever

When you’re as entertaining and knowledgeable as Shaquille O’Neal, you’re going to be around for a long time.

SLAM: Have you been thinking about how you’re going to approach your TV career?

SHAQ: I’m just going to go out there and speak from experience, speak from facts, and just speak my mind. I’m not into bashing people, but I’m going to say what I’ve got to say when I’ve got to say it. I know what buttons to press and what buttons not to press. I chose to go to TNT because they’re more loose and more fun. ESPN…I don’t think I’m ready for that yet.

SLAM: Too corporate?

SHAQ: Yeah.

SLAM: Did you ever get mad at any of the announcers or analysts when they talked about you?

SHAQ: Yeah. My thing is, if you haven’t been there, and you don’t know what it takes, then don’t talk like you know what it takes. I always bring up Skip Bayless. Did he even play basketball? He’s talking about what Tim Duncan should do, and I’m like, You’re talking about one of the greatest players to ever play the game. What do you know? Now, if James Worthy got up there and said it, then I’d respect it. If Bob Pettit got up there, I’d respect it. So, I just think the way sports are going now, when you’ve got guys who played and played at a high level, you respect it. I know as a fan, when I listen and I know you’ve been there and done that, I respect it.

SLAM: Well, I didn’t play in the NBA, but it’s OK if I say something like, Well, Shaq didn’t shoot his free throws very well last night.

SHAQ: [Laughs] And you know what? That’s a fact and you’ve got to live with that.

SLAM: We just did a special issue—SLAM Presents BATTLES—talking about who would win in different all-time matchups, and one of them was who would win between the 1986 Celtics and the 2000 Lakers.

SHAQ: Oh, we would smash them.

SLAM: You think so?

SHAQ: I know so.

SLAM: Now that you’re retired, how do you think you compare against some of the all-time great players? How would you have done against someone like Kareem?

SHAQ: You know, a lot of people try to compare stuff that can never be compared. I mean, it’s different. I look at his game and the way he played and the way I played, and I think I would kill him. But he was the man of his time, and I was the man of my time. His numbers are up there.

The only thing that upsets me about numbers is that if I wouldn’t have missed those 300 games, I would have passed his numbers by leaps and bounds and then that would make me the number one dominant center ever. Can’t ever get those back. I would have held my own. I’m not really known for defense, so he probably would have got his numbers, but I would have got my numbers, too, because I always got great numbers against great centers. But truthfully, that question can never be answered. We’ll never know. People can always say Kareem would’ve killed me, but in my mind, I think Kareem was too light. I would have given him the one-two, boom-boom, elbow, throw it down.

SLAM: When you watch those really old games, it’s wild because the game seems so different than it does now.

SHAQ: Yep. Wilt Chamberlain was like a ’72 Mercedes 600. I was the 2000-2010 version of the same built Mercedes. Just more technology, more moves. So, people always ask me, “How do you think you would do?” I know I would get mine.

SLAM: Now that you’re officially retired and done playing in the NBA, do you have any regrets?

SHAQ: No. The only regret is that I missed those games. And I missed, like, 5,000 free throws. I could have made a thousand more of them. I’m only like 2,000 points, I think, behind Wilt Chamberlain. If I was averaging like 25, or even 20, those 300 games, that puts me in number two, almost. Those are the only regrets I have. But other than that, no. Did it my way, did it how I wanted to do it, played how I wanted to play, said what I wanted to say, played where I wanted to play, ruffled some people’s feathers and had a great time doing it.

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  • http://www.t-mac.com/tmac/index unf*ckwitable

    “I know i would get mine”.

  • http://slamonline.com 1982

    Great interview. Not as much trash talk as I expected, considering his book. But great interview. Thanks

  • T-Money

    more moves than wilt? lol

  • shutup

    I agree with the more moves than Wilt, there were more 7 footers in the league when Shaq played. Wilt had better touch but Shaq’s footwork was better, probably the best size/weight footwork. I completely acknowledge Olajuwan as the best footwork of any center, by far. but Shaq is my number two.

  • Zabbah

    What’s wrong, T-Money? You think Wilt had more moves than Shaq? Please name them because I can only think of one Wilt move, the finger roll. Friggin noobs be trollin.

  • Mike

    i like how he compares he and wilt to older and newer cars. Depends on how you look at greatness. no doubt that Wilt was greater in his time, and relative to his opposition, a greater player. But if you put the two men on the court together , shaq would have a lot of advantages, not the least of which is that he had the benefit of watching and learning from Wilt.

  • Justin G.

    Mike, that doesn’t really make sense. If you put them on the court together, assuming both in their prime, they’d both see each other. Wilt wouldn’t get the same kind of positioning against Shaq in the post and let’s face it, he didn’t have a lot of moves. He had the finger roll and turn around jumper. Shaq had more than just that although I guess the argument could be make that those two moves were all Wilt needed

  • shutup

    I already stated i believe that shaq had more moves but wilt was deceptively quick, i think i heard that he was a track star as well. Wilt would beat Shaq up the court, i think running in the open court Wilt would have the advantage but once the offense settles Shaqs power would overcome Wilt. Like Shaq said we will never know but its great to imagine.

  • http://cnbc.com JTaylor21

    No one here saw Wilt play during his prime, so let’s just hold off on the “Shaq had more moves than Wilt” BS. Wilt would destroy Shaq (too quick, too fast, jumps too high)

  • shutup

    you just said no one saw wilt play during his prime but yet you say he would destroy him, smh your a joke. Ive seen enough clips of Wilt to come to a reasonable conclusion that Wilt being head and shoulders above the players of his era relied on his height more than anything, his turnaround jumper was his go to move, he scored a lot of points beating his man up the floor. Shaq on the other hand crated havoc in the half court set, against quite possible the greatest big man era in the nba. Go youtube Wilt’s highlights, and then compare them to Shaq’s and maybe you’ll understand why people came to the conclusion Wilt didn’t possess the footwork or moves that Shaq had.

  • Mike From Spain

    I have never seen Wilt play, but I think it is just not possible for any 7 footer to have such quick, nimble footwork as Shaq. Olajuwon had more moves but… quicker?

  • Justin G.

    Olajuwon was quicker for sure but for a big man Shaq was incredibly quick too. To be honest, Olajuwan and Wilt might be a more intriguing matchup because Wilt’s not beating Hakeem up and down the floor for extra points and Hakeem was obviously a great shotblocker too. Could Wilt handle Olajuwan’s myriad of moves? Nobody else could and he could hit the 10-15 ft. jumper too

  • http://knicks.com Gametimeweezy

    Olajuwon was awesome but for those three championship years in L.A. Shaq was the most dominating big man ever.

  • S-Bizzle

    All this talk about Wilt killing Shaq is ridiculous. If Wilt played today he’d look like one of those awkward centers from Georgetown… and would probably avg 12-9.

  • OneStep

    Yeah Wilt had no moves. He scores 100 in a game with no moves. He averages 50 for an entire season with no moves. STFU! I reckon Wilt and Shaq would be a pretty even match-up in the same way that Hakeem and Shaq was. Speed and quickness versus size and strength. Face-up game versus low-post game. All I know is that it would have been a fun game to watch.

  • James Aka…

    I think its also a bit misleading to argue about the foundation from the top floor. Everytime you start out learning an already decent set of moves and then building your own of course you’re going to look more advanced. Those moves can tell us things about agility and timing which do allow for real points of comparison, but comparing late 90′s shaq to early 60′s wilt is not useful. What would shaq have done with a 6 foot lane? What would wilt have done getting to steady other greats, palming the ball without being called for double dribbling, bunny hopping across the lane without being called for a travel, running over people or bowing them out of the way without always being called for an offensive foul? I’m picking on shaq a bit here but the point im making is that facile comparisons give you misleading answers.

    Most people who analyze these things intensely put shaq below wilt, and I can’t personally think of one who did the reverse. Some say wilt was the greatest ever overall, and I’ve never heard that about shaq. Finally, for the individual above who said he would go 12-9, Wilt was dusting the showtime lakers players during practice in his early 40′s. In other words, his athleticism was intact enough years after retiring to own pickup games against magic johnson. If you don’t think wilt holds up in todays game, you don’t think Magic Johnson does either.