The basketball world is celebrating Shaquille O’Neal’s remarkable NBA career ahead of his Hall of Fame enshrinement later this week—the League put out some footage to remind everyone of just what a force of nature The Diesel was.
Shaq likes to dabble in self-mythologizing, but it’s unnecessary: he changed the game.
Hulking career on & off court made @SHAQ dominant
— NBA.com (@NBAcom) September 7, 2016
“Shaq, I think had he had the same focus as Kobe could have been the best ever,” said Del Harris, the L.A. coach the first two-plus seasons of the Bryant-O’Neal pairing. “I really think he had those capabilities. However, his personality being as it was really gave him a breadth of personality and everything that has really stood him well. The guy can do anything. He’s a natural comedian. He’s a natural actor. He’s smart. And he had a wonderful career. Four championships.
“I’d say looking back on this, though, and I wrote this in my book ‘On Point’ that I believed if somehow he and Kobe could have formed a similar relationship that Magic [Johnson] and Kareem [Abdul-Jabbar] had that they would have won any number of championships. I don’t know that number, but it was more than four. They won three together and three more separately. That’s six and I’ve got to think that they would have won six, seven, eight (together). I really don’t know who would have stopped them. They were that good….”
“I want to be remembered as one of the most dominant players to ever play the game,” (O’Neal) said. “The word ‘best’ is thrown around a lot, especially these days with the social media, but ‘most dominant’ is not really thrown around a lot. There are only two guys that really, really dominated the league. Wilt was one and I think I was the other, and that time was good enough for me. […] Just coming in, being able to make an immediate impact, doing it my way, having a couple controversial endings in certain places but still being able to make a lot of noise and win when a lot of people didn’t expect us to win. The way I came in, the way I ended is storybook. First pick, almost made it (to the title with the Magic), starts all over, goes to another team, has problems, Zen Master comes in, and wins three in a row. Young prince wants to take out the young king, they kill him, but they didn’t kill him. He was found on the shore of Miami by another king of the East, Pat Riley, he wins again, and then has problems, he gets traded, traded, traded, he’s getting older, and then he has a career-ending injury. It’s like a book. An excellent book at that.”