Like most NBA players, Shaquille O’Neal is quite proud of his resume. If you’ve ever seen the big man on Inside the NBA, you’ll know he has no problem tossing his championship rings around, especially when he comes up against Charles Barkley. Through that lens, you might think the Diesel thinks he’s the best big man to ever hit hardwood, right?
Shaq, for all his confidence, has a solid understanding and respect for NBA history. In a recent appearance on The Rich Eisen Showhe even admitted that he had no problem placing outside the top three when it comes to all-time great men.
Shaq knows he can’t touch Bill Russell, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar or Wilt Chamberlain
Professional athletes, on the whole, must be extremely confident in their own abilities. While Shaquille O’Neal wasn’t exactly doubting himself when he stepped onto the court, he has a sense of his place in NBA history.
“You know, I get tickled when people say, ‘Rate the best big men in the game,'” Shaq told Rich Eisen. “I will never be as good as the first three. I’m close, I’ll never be this good. Invoice [Russell] has 11 championships. Karim [Abdul-Jabbar] has six. wither [Chamberlain] was the most dominant player of all time.
Although admitting you’re no better than fourth is probably counterintuitive to most athletes, O’Neal isn’t too upset. On the contrary, he is even happy to be in the same conversation as these all-time greats.
“I’m glad that I can be mentioned in the same breath,” he continued. “Because you know why I’m happy?” Because at 19, a drill sergeant took me to a basketball court and said, “You can be just like those three guys.” And I believed him, and I listened to him. And it is here. So it doesn’t matter to me, ‘Oh, Shaq, you’re the best big man ever.’ As long as I’m mentioned with these guys, trust me, I’m more than happy. And Bill Russell, Wilt and Kareem, the greatest guys in history. There will never be anyone so close to them.
Even if you disagree with Shaq’s exact ranking hierarchy, it’s hard to dispute his overall sentiments too much. If nothing else, it’s refreshing to hear a modern, albeit retired, athlete step back and say he’s hugely talented and better than everyone else.
Even Shaquille O’Neal, despite his size and talent, stood on the shoulders of giants. He clearly understands this reality.
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