Ultra-dominant on the court, Shaquille O’Neal has given more than one great player nightmares during his career. However, as he himself admitted, there was one he never managed to get in trouble. At the same time, he may be one of the top 10 all-time basketball players!
2m16, for 150 kilos, that’s what to expect when Shaquille O’Neal tumbled into your racket during his prime. Tall and fat, but also terribly agile for his physique, the Big Diesel was a constant poison on the court. You don’t become the league’s double top scorer just like that! If some teams tried to slow him down by forcing him to go to the free throw line, it was obviously insufficient to stem his level of play.
Beyond the performances, the Hall of Famer also knew how to combine physical domination and trash-talking, a quite lethal combination. The provocative gestures after a monstrous punk, the dark looks launched at the adversary in order to make him lose confidence: when a ferocious beast like him treats you in this way, it is better not to try to answer him. Because as we saw at the start of his career in particular, he was not the type to back down from a fight!
That being said, if his intimidation tactics very often worked (unsurprisingly), they sometimes remained without effect. Shaqfu touched on the subject in his autobiography a few years ago, explaining that one player in particular remained completely unmoved by him, namely Tim Duncan. Enough to give him his respect from the retired pivot, who bluntly states that it is largely thanks to him that the Spurs were able to put an end to the Californian dynasty in the early 2000s:
Tim Duncan inaccessible for the Shaq
Spurs won thanks to Tim Duncan, a guy I could never break. I could say bad things about Patrick Ewing, take it out on David Robinson, I could make Alonzo Mourning react, but when I took it out on Tim he looked at me like he was bored. Every time I come across a Tim Duncan fan who says Tim Duncan is the best player, I don’t contradict him.
It’s a fact, the one who was nicknamed the Big Fundamental was not known to be very emotional on the floor and this, in all circumstances. Like John Stockton in the 90s, the former teammate of Tony Parker could remain impassive in the face of opposing trash-talking. It must be said that he could easily answer with his performance, being none other than the best power forward in history and logically the greatest all-time player in San Antonio. It’s no coincidence that the Texans won five titles with him!
As O’Neal has rightly pointed out, TD was the one who ended the glorious period of the Shaq and Kobe version of the Purples and Golds, although the latter returned to the Finals in 2004. Taking over from a David Robinson about to retire, the No. 21 notably came out of very good conference semi-finals in 2002-03 in order to eliminate the Californians. In total, he also has more titles than the Big Aristotle, who has four to his credit.
Shaq makes it clear, he’s never been able to unseat Tim Duncan, which won’t surprise anyone. Stoic to excess, the former Spurs big man has built a reputation for being a quiet force like this, a kind of beacon in the storm for his teammates in Texas.