Yes, Shaq Really Had A Free Throw Contest With A 77-Year-Old Casino Owner

One of the most loquacious and dominant players to ever play in the NBA, Shaquille O’Neal was a one-of-a-kind talent and was simply a beast in the post and near the rim. O’Neal’s basketball IQ was also off the charts, which made him a dynamic offensive player capable of crushing opponents’ souls with a quick spin move or leave them shaking their heads after an impressive pass. However, the one aspect of O’Neal’s game that until this day he is still criticized for is his shooting skills from the charity stripe.

A career 52.7 percent free-throw shooter, O’Neal’s gaffes from the line are well-documented. But backing up his lofty talk, O’Neal would often hit free throws in clutch situations. Yet, those were mainly anomalies as O’Neal’s lack of success from the free-throw line definitely affected his career scoring output and is, perhaps, really one of the main criticisms of his overall stellar game.

O’Neal, though, couldn’t care less what people think about his free throw woes, mainly because, according to him, his poor free-throw shooting is because a higher power is simply trying to keep him humble.

From FTW’s Nina Mandell’s conversation with O’Neal:

“The theory is, it was the man way upstairs’ way of keeping me humble,” he said. “Seriously. Because the way I played, the way I made everyone else around me better, all of the publicity I was doing — imagine if I was doing that and had shot 90% from the free throw line. I would have been arrogant. I’d probably be so arrogant. So it was just his way of saying ‘hey, buddy, you’re just like everybody else.’”

Considering how “the man way upstairs” is closely monitoring over O’Neal, it’s not too surprising that 77-year-old casino owner David Cordish almost beat the Big Diesel in a free throw shooting competition at Live! Casino & Hotel in Hanover, Maryland on Thursday. Via press release:

“I was sitting on my couch one night and my phone went off, and it was David Cordish challenging me to a free-throw competition,” said O’Neal via a press release. “I said, I’m in!”

O’Neal may have been “in,” but his shots were not, as he ended up tying in the competition with Cordish.

Even in retirement, O’Neal is still god-awful at free throws.