With the 2019-20 NBA season still on hiatus due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, there has been ample time for debate regarding some of the pecking orders in league history.
Among the notable topics was the comparison of two of the NBA’s more prolific, modern-day dynasties in the Los Angeles Lakers and mid-2010’s Golden State Warriors. Although there is plenty of speculation surrounding the style of play and some of the rule changes, Golden State’s lack of an answer for Shaquille O’Neal has served as the common, deciding factor.
While Draymond Green remains as one of the best defenders in the league today, there is still a clear mismatch when it comes to guarding O’Neal. Green has since countered the common perception by pointing out how the big man would struggle to defend the pick-and-roll with him and Stephen curry.
O’Neal offered a response to Green, expressing an understanding to the opinion but naturally disagreeing with the overall idea, via “The Big Podcast with Shaq”:
“Listen, I like Draymond. I like guys that voice their opinion. I try not to get personal with guys. I like him, I like the way he plays, and you have to listen to his points. He made good key points. He said in their era. He didn’t say in my (O’Neal’s) era. Because, if we would’ve played in my era — I was actually thinking about should I respond and all this or just leave it alone — but then I was thinking, they would’ve been the sixth or seventh seed. You had us, you had San Antonio, Utah Jazz, Portland, White Chocolate and C-Webb.
“This era, a lot of people don’t think I can play in this era, but what people forget, I was the first big guy to take it off the glass and go coast to coast. Giannis wasn’t the first; I was the first guy to do that. When I was doing it, coach was like, ’No, don’t do it.’ Now it’s accepted. Listen, I like Golden State. They earned their respect from me.
“A lot of times when certain guys have that G-14 classification to talk, you let them talk. When Stephen Jackson talks about basketball, he knows what he’s talking about. He’s been there in the trench of things, he’s won championships. So you’ve just got to let it be. Draymond, what he got? Three rings? I let that go. But again, it’s his opinion. I try not to get personal.
“However, Mr. Draymond, like you said, I would’ve tore your [expletive] on that block.”
O’Neal has never been shy about voicing his opinion and this especially true on matters that involve his his efforts as arguably the most dominant big man in NBA history. The fact that he is so confident about his talent translating to any era of basketball should hardly come as any surprise.
It is difficult to argue against O’Neal’s points about making his presence felt around the paint against an undersized Green. While having to constantly guard against a pick-and-roll on the other side of the court for most of the game would hardly be ideal, the safe bet would be on the Lakers enjoying a higher rate of success for the duration of a seven-game series.
Aside from some potential simulations on NBA 2K20, there is no way of telling how this series would pan out. Of course, this will not stop O’Neal from taking advantage of every opportunity to make his case.