When ranking the greatest players to ever play basketball, it is never easy due to the amount of talent and legendary players that have come through the league. The Los Angeles Lakers know this very well as at least half of the top-1o all time players have worn the purple and gold.
One person who often gets overlooked in these conversations, however, is Lakers legend Shaquille O’Neal.
O’Neal was unquestionably one of the most dominant players ever and his accolades will back that up. His inability to shoot or make free throws and often being out of shape though has clouded how some people view his career.
In a recent episode of ESPN’s “First Take,” Chris “Mad Dog” Russo was discussing the all-time center list and put O’Neal at No. 5:
— First Take (@FirstTake) December 20, 2023
While everyone is entitled to their opinion, Stephen A. Smith and Jay Williams were certainly taken aback by Mad Dog’s take. O’Neal also responded by saying he is the most dominant center ever and No. 3 all-time on his podcast, The Big Podcast:
“Who the f*ck is that? I’m the most dominant center ever. I don’t ever wanna hear another name again. That would put me at No. 3 [all-time]. I passed Hakeem Olajuwon. The King beat me and then I came back and beat him. Moses Malone, I passed him up four, five, six years before I retired. So me, I would put myself at No. 3.”
It is notable that while O’Neal believes that he is the most dominant big man ever, he ranked himself No. 3 behind fellow Lakers legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and late Boston Celtics legend Bill Russell. There is no denying the kind of specimen Shaq was during his career as simply no one could match up with him.
O’Neal solidified himself and his legacy by signing with L.A. and winning three straight championships from 2000-02. Forming one of the most iconic duos in the history of the league with Kobe Bryant, creating endless highlights during their time together.
Throughout his career, O’Neal was two-time scoring champion, four-time NBA champion, three-time Finals MVP, three-time All-Defensive team and one-time MVP. It is hard to say that a guy of O’Neal’s caliber is the fifth-best center of all-time when there has never been another big man anywhere close to how he physically dominated the game.
Shaquille O’Neal disappointed to be left off all-time Lakers list
This isn’t the first time that O’Neal got the short end of the stick in all-time rankings. Rapper Lil Wayne was recently asked about his all-time Lakers starting lineup that initially included O’Neal, but changed his mind and took him out. Shaq was disappointed to be left off the rapper’s all-time Lakers list although coming up with just five Lakers certainly isn’t easy.
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