Months after Deflategate and we’re still discussing professional athletes and their balls. This time, however, the spotlight is on the NBA and not the NFL.
Back in January, Shaquille O’Neill took free throws on Inside The NBA to demonstrate how deflated basketballs wouldn’t give anyone a significant advantage. It was the NBA’s way of saying “see, the NFL is full of cheaters”, by sending one of the worst free throw shooters of all time to the line for a demonstration.
But not so fast — it turns out the NBA might have a couple ball buster among their ranks and one of them is the very person who took part in the demonstration.
As it turns out, though, Shaq actually used to be a proponent of letting some air out of game balls in order to gain a competitive advantage. ESPN.com just published a pretty interesting story about the game balls that are used in the NBA. And in the middle of it, they quoted a portion of Shaq talking about deflating balls before games during the debut episode of his new podcast, “The Big Podcast With Shaq.” Specifically, he said he used to do it so that he could get a better grip on the ball and palm it.
“Sometimes, in the games during all my championship runs, if a ball was too hard, I let air out,” he said. “I’d have a needle. A friend of mine would have a needle and I would get the game ball…I needed that extra grip, but I wasn’t doing that for cheating purposes. I just needed the extra grip for my hands so I could palm it, a la Michael Jordan, the way he used to palm it.”
Shaq also emphasized that he didn’t knowingly break any rules by deflating basketballs.
I absolutely love the “there’s no rule against it defense.” There’s also no rule about taking a pistol out of your shorts and popping a couple caps into the shins of opposing players, you just kind of don’t do it.