The NBA resembles nothing like the bruising League it was in the early 1990s, and Shaquille O’Neal gives himself full credit for the small-ball revolution that followed his long reign.
O’Neal, 44, is getting enshrined into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame this weekend, and the big fella is looking back on his remarkable career.
— The Vertical (@TheVertical) September 6, 2016
The Diesel was the most dominant player to ever grace the court, but thinks he never truly reached his potential as a basketball player.
Q: This Hall of Fame consists of two dominant big men, you and Yao [Ming]. [Tim] Duncan and [San Antonio’s] Pau Gasol are the [future] candidates, but both can be categorized as power forwards and won championships playing the four. How long will it take for a legitimate back-to-the-basket center to reach the Hall of Fame now?
O’Neal: “There won’t be another one like me, and like Yao, ever again. We feel the dearth of the real center. I believe the way that I dominated, I made guys not want to come inside and feel the pain. That’s why you have a lot of guys stepping out and shooting jumpers now. We’re all products of our environment, so when I was coming up, I saw big men playing in the middle. The kids saw me playing and realized that they couldn’t endure the pain and nor did they want to take the pain. So they started shooting jumpers – a la Dirk Nowitzki.”