We all know Shaquille O’Neal is one of the all-time greats of the NBA. He’s a four-time NBA champion, a three-time Finals MVP, a regular season MVP, a 14-time All-NBA selection…this list goes on and on. Yet, Brian Scalabrine, a former teammate of Shaquille’s, thinks his greatness isn’t appreciated enough. On The Dan Patrick Show, Scalabrine called Shaq “the most underrated great player.”
As fans and observers, it’s tough to appreciate how much attention a player draws from the defense, which is exactly why Scalabrine says Shaq gets slept on. He says the Big Aristotle completely changed the scheme of any defense, and opened up so much of the offense for his teammates simply because of his gargantuan gravity that pulled defenders in from the perimeter. O’Neal was such a fearsome offensive rebounder and finisher that whomever was guarding him simply wasn’t allowed to leave his side – even if a guard was strolling to the basket unobstructed. That’s partially why guards like Kobe Bryant and Dwyane Wade were so lethal attacking the rim, because they knew the help defense wasn’t going to come. It couldn’t with Shaq in the paint.
Superman was as dominant of a center as we’ve seen in the NBA, but the numbers only tell a portion of the story. To complete the tale, we need players like Scalabrine to reveal the aspects of Shaq’s game normally only known to those who played in his era.
(Via NBC Sports)