Throughout much of his time in the NBA, Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal was highly regarded as being one of the most dominant players the league has seen. There was nobody his size with his strength and feel for the game. O’Neal was unmatched during the prime of his career that helped fuel him experience a tremendous amount of success over his career. However, there were a few players that ramped up O’Neal‘s nerves on the court. That shortlist included having to play against Michael Jordan, which he recently revealed why he was fearful of taking the floor against him.
Shaquille O’Neal’s dominance
During the first decade in the league, O’Neal was a nearly unguardable talent on the court due to unique physical presence, size, strength, and skillset in the low post.
He was one of the most feared players on the court simply because no other player could guard him individually. O’Neal dominated the league during his time with the Orlando Magic and more so with the Los Angeles Lakers.
That saw him become the driving force to the Lakers securing three NBA Finals, which he won the NBA Finals MVP in each instance with his tremendous production that no other team could match on that stage. At his peak, O’Neal was too much to handle, which made the Hack-a-Shaq a valuable tool for opponents to use in hopes of bypassing having to deal with him in the paint.
Nonetheless, there hasn’t been a player like O’Neal, but there were those that he feared playing against, and Jordan headlined shortlist.
Shaq says he feared playing Michael Jordan
In the time that has passed since his playing days, O’Neal has been quite open about different aspects of his career. That is taken up a notch on the TNT’s “Inside the NBA,” as he has another platform to discuss his career.
Back in January one of those unique opportunities came when the show did a flashback moment of O’Neal facing off against Jordan in 1993 when he was with the Magic. That brought forth a chance for him to reflect on that game, which he stated that he was fearful of Chicago Bulls great when he played against him.
“Since the statue of limitation is up, I was terrified out there. For the whole game. 1: He’s the greatest player. 2: I was worried about him dunking on me and having to go back and face the fellas. 3: He was just so hot. Like the stuff I saw in college on tv was really real.
O’Neal’s team got the better of Jordan and the Bulls that night in a 128-124 overtime win behind his 29-point and 24-rebound performance. However, the four-time NBA champion, but the fact that he was scared to play Jordan, shows the type of respect he had on the court.
It’s not a sign of weakness by any means, but the Bulls all-time great was that frightening to play as he had 64 points in that 1993 matchup against O’Neal. There hasn’t been another player like Jordan in the NBA that struck that kind of fear in opponents.
There is no other like Michael Jordan
Beyond his performance on the court, Jordan has been held to the highest regard from his peers.
He was a one-of-a-kind player that had an unmatched personal drive and talent to match that took his game to the next level. It was the linchpin to what has him firmly in the conversation as being the greatest player to play the game.
Stories like this from some other all-time greats like O’Neal only further exemplify what a tremendous talent he was on the court. There wasn’t another player like him to play in the NBA.