For NBA players, this summer has been the Summer of Money, with gargantuan contracts thrown out left and right in anticipation of next summer’s salary cap explosion. Some of these contracts made sense, such as Anthony Davis’ massive, $140-plus million extension, while others, like the Oklahoma City Thunder matching the max offer sheet for Enes Kanter, befuddled most (well, we know KD’s impending free agency had a lot to do with it).
Meanwhile, for NBA legends, this has been the summer of “Hey, Remember Me? I Used To Be Really Good.” It seems as if there’s been an inordinate amount of former players piping up about which current players they could beat, or which other former players weren’t as good. Michael Jordan, as per usual, said he could beat LeBron James if they were both in their primes. That was while Shaquille O’Neal and Scottie Pippen engaged in a weird social media war of belittlement. Shaq hasn’t stopped there, however, as he recently told the Wall Street Journal that there’s no one in today’s NBA that could challenge him, not even Anthony Davis.
Shaq said Davis is “too little for me. That’s barbecue chicken down there.”
The Big Aristotle is right, in so far as he is, in fact, bigger than Anthony Davis. Yet, while prime Shaq was an athletic phenom, not just a mere lumbering center but limber and graceful, Davis would provide a tremendous challenge. Shaq could probably body Davis in the post, but even that wouldn’t be an easy task. The ‘Brow has put on significant muscle since he entered the league, and he’s definitely not a pushover down low. He still hasn’t reached his full defensive potential, but his wingspan would be enough to bother any shot Shaq would throw up.
Where Davis would win the battle handily is on offense. Even stacked up against peak Shaq, Davis has the edge in speed, length and skill. He could scoot past Shaq, or shoot over him. Shaq never saw anything like this during his playing days, even if the four-time champion did battle peak Admiral, Dream and Ewing.
From time to time, it’s fun to debate which legend of the past could beat today’s legends in-the-making. But, at some point, it becomes overkill, and we’re pretty close to reaching that point. Good thing training camp is just a month away.