Shaquille O’Neal carved out a first-ballot Hall of Fame career behind his sheer dominance. His style of play was anchored by his ability to physically impose himself against opponents. However, Hall of Famer Wilt Chamberlain wasn’t a fan of O’Neal‘s playing style.
Shaquille O’Neal’s Illustrious NBA career
O’Neal quickly made his presence felt in the NBA behind his physical dominance.
O’Neal dominated the league for several years behind his size, strength, and skill in the low post. It helped guide him to earn four NBA titles and three NBA Finals MVP awards, receive 15 All-Star Game selections and 14 All-NBA selections, and garner a regular-season MVP award. He also has his jersey retired with the Los Angeles Lakers, Miami Heat, and Orlando Magic.
He remains regarded as one of the league’s greatest players and big men. Before beginning his dominant stretch, Hall of Famer Wilt Chamberlain verbally blasted O’Neal’s play
Wilt Chamberlain lambasted Shaquille O’Neal with how he played: ‘Gets away with what I believe is murder’
Before O’Neal experienced championship success with the Lakers, he quickly became one of the league’s top big men.
His dominant play through his first few years placed significant praise toward him, including being named one of the NBA’s 50 greatest players in 1996 despite playing only his fourth season. However, not everyone was sold on his talent level as Chamberlain voiced that he wasn’t a fan of O’Neal’s style of play.
“Shaq gets away with what I believe is murder,” Chamberlain said during an interview with Gary Miller of ESPN in 1997. “I think when you dip your shoulder and your run over the top of a guy and the guy is laying on the floor. You know you’re getting away with something. Shaq is allowed to score some points that maybe he wouldn’t get.”
He further stated that former Washington Bullets big man Gheorghe Muresan was a better scorer in the paint than O’Neal.
“If you made it a straight-up situation and gave the same rules and regulations that you gave to Shaq to Gheorghe Muresan, Muresan has a better touch around the basket and can score more points,” Chamberlain said. ‘If the Bullets had enough sense to give him the ball 20-25 times like somebody else, Muresan may be averaging 30 points a game.”
The Hall of Fame big man held much admiration toward Muresan. He was coming off a career-best campaign with 14.5 points and 9.6 rebounds on 58.4% shooting from the floor. It helped him earned the Most Improved Player award. However, Muresan struggled to build off that success as his production dropped the following season as he was out of the NBA after the 1999-00 season.
Carved out a everlasting NBA legacy
O’Neal may not have had the chance to showcase his dominance o Chamberlain, but he certainly carved his lane.
In his eight seasons with the Lakers, he experienced his best campaigns. He won three NBA titles and three Finals MVP awards, earned a regular-season MVP award, and received seven All-Star Game selections and five All-NBA First Team nods. O’Neal added a fourth championship with the Miami Heat, but his legacy was set with Los Angeles.
He became the gold standard for big men during his era behind his dominance. He sits regarded as one of the game’s greatest talents that left a lasting impact. Beyond that, there will never be another player like O’Neal in NBA history.