During his 19-year career, Shaquille O’Neal became one of the most dominant players the Los Angeles Lakers — and the entire NBA — have ever seen.
The 7-foot-1 center feasted on his opponents in the paint, shooting 58.2% from the field during his time in the NBA, the 10th-highest career field goal percentage of all time. O’Neal broke numerous backboards with powerful dunks, finishing his career with 1,874 slams — which ahead of the 2021-22 season was the fourth-highest number in the league’s history.
However, one of the best defenders in modern-day basketball said he would welcome the challenge of guarding the legendary Laker. The Golden State Warriors’ Draymond Green said on his podcast the opportunity to face O’Neal would mean “everything to him,” as he was a big fan of the four-time NBA champion in his childhood:
“Shaq, like I said, he was my favorite player growing up. If I had the opportunity to guard him, that’s everything for me. If I had the opportunity to play with Shaq, that’s everything for me. Everyone says, ‘Oh man, if you played in the league back then, you wouldn’t be able to guard Shaq. You wouldn’t be able to guard him.’ Shut up. I can guard Shaq. Bring on the big fella.”
Green admitted he would probably not be able to shut down O’Neal completely. But the 6-foot-6 forward said he was confident he could “get a stop” in a match up with the NBA great:
“I grew up a Shaq fan. I had Orlando Magic night light, the zip up ones. So if I could play basketball with Shaq, and then if I could also guard Shaq so I can shut everyone up with the whole, ‘You can’t guard Shaq’. [Of] course I can’t guard Shaq, but I can get a stop. I ain’t saying I’m going to stop him relatively, but I think at some point, I’m going to get a stop. But I would love that challenge though.”
Green is putting on a defensive masterpiece in the 2022 NBA Playoffs. The 32-year-old made life tough for Denver Nuggets star center Nikola Jokic in the first round, as the Warriors cruised to a 4-1 win in the series.
Green won the Defensive Player of the Year award in 2017.
O’Neal jokes he could coach Lakers for $25 million per year
The Lakers embark on a head coach search after firing Frank Vogel in the aftermath of the disastrous 2021-22 season. Several candidates have been linked with taking over in L.A., including Quin Snyder and Doc Rivers.
O’Neal jokingly threw his hat in the ring, saying he could take the position — if the Lakers paid him $25 million a season for four years.
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