Shaquille O’Neal Admits He Was Scared Playing Against Michael Jordan And Other Greats During His NBA Days
Shaquille O’Neal is generally believed to be the most dominant player the NBA has ever seen, as the 7’1″, 300-pound man could bully his way to the basket at any given moment to drop in an easy bucket, or rip down an entire hoop thanks to his pure strength. As intimidating as Shaq was when he walked onto the basketball court, though, he still had some fears when he was hooping during his NBA days — namely all-time greats.
Talking to the NBA on TNT crew the other day, O’Neal didn’t hold back about voicing the players he was actually scared to play against as a young NBA player. Naturally, Michael Jordan was at the top of that list, but Shaq also explained why other Hall of Famers like Patrick Ewing, David Robinson and Charles Barkley made the cut, too.
Per Hot New Hip Hop:
Says Shaq, “Since the statute of limitations is up – I was terrified out there.” When asked how long the terror of going up against MJ lasted, Shaq told his co-hosts, “The whole game.”
“For one, he’s the greatest player. Two, I was worried about him dunking on me and having to go back and face the fellas. And then three, he was just so hot. Like, the stuff that I saw when I was in college on tv, it’s like really real. I was terrified.”
And here’s the full clip of Shaquille O’Neal describing his emotions on the court when going against those all-timers, which is as candid as the big fella will get.
We don’t often see guys like Shaq let down their guard and admit they were actually scared to face an opposing player, so this is both rare and extremely honest — but a welcome sight for sure. It shows a humility from O’Neal that most fans may forget he even has, as the guy was just as wide-eyed going against the best of the best while in the NBA. And, to make it even sweeter, Barkley was a mere 10 feet away from him on set at the time of the admission, which, in the TV war between the two, seemed to be O’Neal’s way of letting his guard down.
Sure, Shaq was a physical monster out there on the basketball court, but, in his words, he was “terrified” to go against the creme de la creme, which wouldn’t be expected from a man his size.