Shaq Responds to “5th-Best Center” in NBA History Comment on ‘The Big Podcast’

Shaq Responds to “5th-Best Center” in NBA History Comment on ‘The Big Podcast’ article feature image

The G.O.A.T. debate has seemingly become a daily topic of conversation and the latest iteration took an odd turn even by today's standards. It began with a simple question from one of the game's legends, Shaquille O'Neal, after the Warriors' overtime win over the Celtics Tuesday: Is it time to start including Stephen Curry in the G.O.A.T. conversation?

Instead of engaging in the conversation, Chris "Mad Dog" Russo questioned whether Shaq, as the "fifth-best center in the history of the NBA," was qualified to weigh in on the topic on ESPN's First Take. He then listed five fellow Hall of Fame players, whom he considered to have been better than the four-time NBA Champion: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Wilt Chamberlain, Tim Duncan, Hakeem Olajuwon and Moses Malone.

When 'The Big Podcast' co-host Adam Lefkoe played the Russo comments for Shaq on their latest episode, the Big Aristotle asked, "Who the f*** is that?"

"Chris Russo is a legendary New York radio host," Lefkoe said. "Legendary to you," O'Neal said bluntly. "He's no legend to me."

Shaq eventually addressed the back-and-forth on where he stands among the NBA's great big men.

"I disagree," Shaq said. "However, Kareem, yes. Wilt, only because he has more points than me. That's the only thing that upsets me about my career. Missed 250 games at 25, that's another 5,000 points that would've put me past Wilt. Missed a s*** load of free throws, that would've put me past Wilt. So because he has more points, I'll let that slide."

"I passed Hakeem Olajuwon up," he continued. "The king beat me [in the 1994 Finals]. I came back and beat him [in 1998]. Moses Malone, I passed him up four, five, six years ago before I retired. So me, I will put myself at number three. Criticism and stories don't bother me because if you look at the reality of the situation: high school, undefeated; LSU, statue, retired jersey; Orlando Magic, about to be the first retired jersey; L.A., retired jersey, statue. I did my thing."

Shaq detailed the real reason in his eyes that his young Magic team fell short against Olajuwon's Rockets in the '94 Finals.

"We could have beat Houston," Shaq explained. "But that was all my fault. It really was, because we were rolling and we beat the Bulls … and we had 10 days off. And that's when the trouble started. Parties at my crib parties at [Dennis] Scott's crib. I was renting private jets back before that was a thing. Me and D-Scott, we're in this little ass jet, we fly to Atlanta, we're at Magic City for two days because we had five days off. So we were going crazy."

He went on, "I didn't know how to keep that focus. I let off. And then when I played against Hakeem, who was my idol, I showed him too much respect. When you're battling against a person, you show people respect by showing them none … But it taught me a valuable lesson. It taught me that if I ever get put in that position again to dominate. And that's what I did. That's why I'm the fifth-best center."

As for the Duncan comparison, well … Shaq had no tolerance for that one.

"Tim Duncan ain't no center," he said adamantly. "I ain't letting that s*** ride. He is a power forward. Keep him over there. Don't even try it, people."

You can listen to more of Shaq's conversation about who belongs in the G.OA.T. conversation, stories about him growing up and more on the re-vamped weekly podcast.

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