In his prime with the Los Angeles Lakers, Shaquille O’Neal was perhaps the most dominant player in NBA history.
And if his angst with Kobe Bryant hadn’t become so volatile, who knows what those two could’ve accomplished, especially now that they have smoothed things over.
However, since retiring, O’Neal has been very complimentary of the players he played with and against, often dropping himself to a lower tier than he likely was. He’s both included and left himself off his own all-time starting lineups, and has said that Hakeem Olajuwon deserves a spot over him.
In an interview with Today, O’Neal reminisced about the early days of his career with the Orlando Magic and called Olajuwon the greatest player he’s ever played against:
“From my position, it’d be Hakeem Olajuwon. He was a guy I could not break mentally or physically.”
Olajuwon was absolutely the best center in the league during the 1990s and because of that, he managed to make the Rockets the only team to win a championship during Michael Jordan’s prime. Granted they were in the two seasons Jordan didn’t play, but it shows that he could’ve had a few more chances had it not been for the Chicago Bulls.
In fact, in O’Neal’s only Finals appearance with the Magic, Olajuwon’s Rockets swept them easily. O’Neal seems to reminisce on his playing days with his ego gone.
While O’Neal truly was the most dominant force in NBA history, it’s hard to argue with Olajuwon’s prime at that time. Luckily, it’s easy to say that both players are simply great.