Shaq Should Have Been Greater

Shaquille O’Neal retired from the NBA via Twitter yesterday afternoon.

Now folks are talking about his legacy.

I think that Shaq would have been a much better player with more accomplishments if he consistently put in the work.  His focused constantly wavered from the basketball court to Hollywood to music studios.

I mean, Shaq’s lack of attention to the little things hurt him: free-throw shooting, conditioning, and weight training were low on his list of priorities.

Just think if Shaq put in the time with his free throws – he would probably have broken all sorts of scoring records!  Hell, he was such an unstoppable force in his prime.  The only way players could neutralize him is at the free-throw line, though  Shaq also didn’t have much of an outside shot.

Shaq’s lack of conditioning led to more injuries than he should have sustained.  He was used to coasting during past regular seasons, turning it on in the playoffs when it counted.  He only worked but so hard in building up his wind so he could always go 100% – regular season and playoffs.  However, that lack of conditioning caught up with him as he got older, causing him to not come up big in the playoffs while with the Suns, Cavaliers and Celtics.  Anyone seeing how he went out in Boston could attest to that.

Shaq’s ego also got in the way of greatness.  He couldn’t co-exist with Penny Hardaway in Orlando, ruining what was a dynasty in the making.  If he would have just sucked it up in L.A., he would have won at least THREE MORE titles (though I blame Kobe for 50% of that).  He resented being second fiddle to Dwyane Wade in Miami, and didn’t really mesh well with LeBron James in Cleveland.

Shaq could have (and should have) been the greatest center to play the game.  Instead, this is how I would rank him…

  1. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: he is the NBA’a all-time leading scorer with six MVPs to boot.  ‘Nuff said.
  2. Bill Russell: perhaps the greatest winner in ALL of sports, with 11 NBA championships to boot.
  3. Wilt Chamberlain: he, NOT Michael Jordan, is the best scorer in NBA history.
  4. George Mikan: the original dominant big man.
  5. Hakeem Olajuwon: anyone who seen him school Shaq and Patrick Ewing knows what I am talking about.
  6. Shaq
  7. Patrick Ewing: if it weren’t for that negro Jordan and his damn referee-loving, cheating-ass Bulls, he’d have a fist full of rings for my Knicks.
  8. Moses Malone: “fo, fo, fo…”  I still love that line almost 30 years later…

Categories: NBA, sports story

10 replies

  1. Good list overall….but only a Knicks fan could even think of putting Ewing over D-Rob. That one’s pure fantasy – Dave was better on both ends.

    Sure would like to see what this list looked like in an alternate universe where Walton and Sampson stayed healthy, though.

  2. Klown, you had me busting up laughing at the Patrick Ewing listing. I know it’s about the times, but Mikan wouldn’t hold his own against Jermaine O’Neal (2011 version) if he came into the NBA these days. I’d like to know more about guys like Connie Hawkins and Daryl Dawkins (Dr. Dunkenstein should be there on nicknames alone.)

    There’s a list. Best nicknames.

    Shaq (Big Aristotle, Shaq-fu, etc.)
    Wilt (Stilt, Big Dipper)
    Dawkins (Dr. Dunkenstein from the planet Lovetron!)
    Earvin (Magic) Johnson
    Julius Dr. J Erving
    Dominique (the Human Highlight Film) Wilkins
    Michael Air Jordan. (Kinda lame. Makes him sound hollow.)

    This makes me think we should get together and have an all-time fantasy draft. (Wilt has to be the unanimous #1 with a 50 pt, 25 rebound season. With Oscar Robertson #2 averaging a triple-double) Okay, this has gone on quite a tangent. Like the post.

  3. I have to admit, I could have written this article 5 years ago. I felt the exact same way about Shaq.

    However, I’ve changed my position a bit. After seeing what happened to Yao and Oden (and ghosts of big men past like Walton, Reed, Sampson and David Bowie), I just have to recognize that men that large aren’t made for running up and down a wooden basketball court for years and years.

    The ones who have long careers like Kareem, Ewing and Wilt are the exception. (Wilt and Ewing stayed on the court but were shadows of their former selves in their 30’s)

    Shaq may have outsmarted the system. He refused to be used and spit out like so many other athletes before him.

    He is arguably second to Jordan in marketing himself successfully. Movies, albums, commercials – he has a Q rating and following with people who don’t care about basketball.

    He recognized the regular season for what it is. A ridiculously long 82 game grind that puts players’ post career health at great risk. And for what? All anyone ever remembers is what happened in the playoffs anyway.

    Yes, it could be argued that it was selfish of him to have surgeries just before the season started and have to heal up during the first part of the season, but his argument has some vailidity. “I got injured playing for the team; I should heal up on the teams’ time, not my vacation time.” Isn’t it a lot to ask a player to play an 8 month season, then spend 2-3 months on crutches when you finally get some time off?

    Once he saw that the Lakers were going to cater to Kobe’s every whim and kick him to the curb because the younger star is always more valuable, he decided to show as much loyalty to management as they show him and other aging legends. Not much.

    Yes, Shaq could have had better stats but I’m not sure he would have made more NBA money or won more rings. Once you have a max contract, your incentive to go the extra mile dissapates some, I would imagine.

    Say what you want about Shaq but he’s a smart, savvy successful businessman who recognized the NBA for what it is and the role he was supposed to play. He rejected that role and used the system just like it used him

    • Yo Deuce!

      Good points on him using the system. And he was one hell of a businessman off the court. His charisma allowed him to become a successful pitchman, star in movies (including the forgettable “Shazaam”). Hell, he is the only athlete who had a successful rap career!

      I just think if he applied himself, he’d own records. In his prime, Shaq was the most unstoppable force of nature I have ever seen. You can’t tell me he wouldn’t have won more titles if he allowed himself to co-exist with Kobe in LA…

  4. I think we need Jeremy or another Laker Lover to help us out on this one. You’re saying that Shaq should have allowed himself to co-exist with Kobe.

    That’s not how I remember it going down.

    I thought that Kobe wanted Shaq off the team and was refusing to sign an extension because he didn’t not want to spend the better part of his career in Shaq’s rather mammoth shadow. Kobe basically told Jerry Buss, “it’s him or me”. Buss caved to the ultimatum and shipped Shaq.

    Am I mistaken? Did Kobe want Shaq to stay and Shaq was refusing to co-exist?

  5. Shaq couldn’t co-exist with Penny Hardaway? Are you sure? I thought he wanted to get to LA because it’s a big market and he wanted to do the Hollywood thing.

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