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Shaquille O’Neal was quickly compared to the greatest interiors of all time thanks to his prowess on the pitch, including Wilt Chamberlain. Asked about the subject, the legendary pivot had dropped an implacable response on the Big Aristotle. Difficult to be clearer!
When Shaquille O’Neal took his first steps in the NBA in the early 90s, it didn’t take long before his arrival had the effect of a bomb. Too fast, too nimble and too powerful for most pivots of the era, the Big Diesel slaughtered anything in its path, all while putting Orlando’s fledgling franchise on the map single-handedly. Three years after his draft, the Magic were already playing the Finals and that was largely thanks to the wild beast that he was.
Inevitably, faced with such domination under the basket, it did not take long before comparisons with the greatest big men in history were flying in all directions, especially with Wilt Chamberlain. The Warriors and Lakers legend, however, quickly wanted to put an end to it all, believing that a chasm separated them in all respects. Guest of Conan O’Brien’s show, he had conceded a single point in common between them. For the rest, no need to discuss it:
Wilt Chamberlain vs Shaquille O’Neal in their primes would be an absolute treat to watch pic.twitter.com/wHoN8GZnSL
— Ishaan Bhattacharya (@IshaanBhatta) August 4, 2022
Yeah, we’re both terrible free throw shooters. But Shaquille and I are like comparing myself to Clark Gable (actor in the film Gone with the Wind, editor’s note). In this case, I’m Clark Gable and he’s me.
It’s free, but oh so funny from The Stilt. At the same time, at this time, Shaq didn’t yet have any champion rings under his belt and hadn’t even reached his prime yet.
Wilt: “Shaq would have struggled in my time”
Moreover, if he was already a very beautiful baby on the athletic level, he had not yet become the physical monster that he was later. Wilt did not know him with his 150 kilos of ideal weight, having died in 1999. Suddenly, he did not think that the Big Aristotle could have known the same success during the 60s, when he reigned on the rackets in company of behemoths such as Bill Russell, Walt Bellamy or Nate Thurmond:
He plays an entirely different type of basketball than in my time. He uses his physique very well, he is a tall and strong young man. It works great in today’s game. But what if he had come face to face with me and other guys from my time? He won’t do very well. I lifted between 270 and 310 kilos approximately in the bench press.
With his pre-prime physique, Shaq might have actually struggled to dominate against monsters such as Wilt Chamberlain. If the latter had lived long enough, however, he would certainly have reconsidered his position on the subject.