Shaquille O’Neal is one of the most dominant basketball players of all time. He’s also well aware of it, and he’s never been shy to boast. For as much as Shaq tried to be a “fun” guy, he has also often been condescending toward other players and self-aggrandizing toward himself. On the occasion of his much-deserved induction into the Basketball Hall of Fame, he’s crediting himself for completely changing the game of basketball…by scaring everybody out of being a center.
In a Q&A with Shams Charania of The Vertical, the four-time champion was asked when the next “back-to-the-basket center” would be enshrined in Springfield. His response wasn’t exactly surprising.
“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.”
Sure, you could say that jump shooting big men spread the floor. They allow for better flow offensively and allow an offense to be more dynamic and creative. Big men who can fit into this kind of offense are very valuable, and have helped revolutionize the NBA. Or maybe they were all just scared of Shaq. Maybe they were just scared Shaq would hurt them with his big muscles.
Shaq’s dominance is undeniable. He was a physical force. He’s also probably not completely responsible for the evolution of the game of basketball.
(Via The Vertical)