From one great to another. A top player at guard talks about his teammate who was one of the all-time great big men. Kobe to Shaq is a sequence that we have been seeing since the early 2000s and today it continued.
Shaquille O’Neal was awarded a much deserved statue unveiling today at the Staples Center. The big man was presented with former teammates, coaches, and family there to see his statue that represents his game all too well. Yes, that’s the statue. The one where he is breaking down the backboard with a ferocious dunk.
Far too often in this media-driven society we live in, much of the great players and teams from the past do not get the necessary or respectful exposure and appreciation. Much of the media is focusing on the players of today and how they are impacting the game and becoming the next MJ. Let’s not forget who were the first “MJ’s” or “Shaq’s”.
The 15 time All-Star selection did far more than just break backboards during his time playing basketball. He transformed the game and how big men played it. He proved his dominance night in and night out with his forceful dunks and using his large framed body to punish those who got in the way. He was a large part of the Lakers run for 3 straight NBA titles from ’00-02′. The big smile on the big man was something that media and the NBA fans loved seeing in the Staples Center each night alongside the up and coming superstar, Kobe Bryant.
Here is something that I want to mention though. Shaq was the best big man to watch for many years, as I had the pleasure of growing up and watching basketball as Shaq was becoming more dominant year after year. O’Neal IS one of the top 5 big men of all time. He has shattered records much like he has backboards. He has the championships to compare, he has the stats to compare, and he has the consistency and dominance that change the game liek no other big man.
Guys like Russell and Wilt are always going to be at the forefront of the greatest big man convo. Don’t forget about the fellow Laker Kareem. Yes, a couple may have a few more points or more championships. The things that separates Shaq more than any of these is the way that he impacted the game. Nobody prior to Shaq or after has been as forceful inside for someone over 275 pounds. He was exceptionally skilled with his feet and hands for his massive size that he presented. O’Neal paved the way for himself, as there has never been a man as big as him with that much athleticism and skill. For this, I argue that he is in the top 3 all-time in the center category. That is just a personal opinion and i know that some, or most, may not agree with that.
Not to mention today’s presentation ceremony. He had all of his teammates there along the wya that helped him get to where he was. Most importantly, his partner in crime Kobe had some very kind words to say about his fellow teammate and champion. Those two created a 3 peat of championships that had not been done since MJ’s Chicago Bulls int he 90s. Honestly, I don’t think that we will see that again for many years.
I gotta’ shout out my favorite podcast, Jalen and Jacoby. Jalen Rose always talks about the great players that he thinks should get a statue. One of them that he mentioned years ago? Yep, Shaq. Another? Yeah, Kobe. This is one of the most deserving of the statue, as the legacy of Shaq for his time in the NBA and with the Lakers is something that people should know about for years.
I remember the days of watching Bryant and O’Neal take the NBA by storm, with nothing but alley oops and ESPN’s Top Ten Plays highlights night after night. I was fortunate enough to watch him in my young basketball years. Thank you big fella’ for what you’ve done and the fans are appreciative for it. I can’t wait to go see your statue live at the Staples Center one day.