Shaquille O’Neal is one of the greatest centers of all time. A force to be reckoned with, Shaq garnered respect from many of the other greats. That being said, there were those who at times disregarded his abilities. In particular, another great center, Wilt Chamberlain once brushed off comparisons between him and Big Diesel by boasting about his ability to bench 600 lbs. However, that does not mean he didn’t think Shaq was good. In fact, a video has now resurfaced on Twitter, of an interview Wilt had with Howard Stern, where he praised O’Neal’s skill, but also commented on his fitness levels.
When Shaq first entered the league, the media drew comparisons between him and other legendary big men. But, one person who did not like these comparisons was Chamberlain. Wilt the Stilt always had a high opinion of his abilities, as he should have. After all, he did things no one in the league has been able to replicate. So, his aversion to being compared with other big men was understandable.
Wilt Chamberlain once lavished high praise on Shaquille O’Neal before criticizing his fitness
In an interview with Howard Stern back in 1997, Wilt Chamberlain was asked about some of the NBA’s top big men. A legendary center himself, Wilt had a lot to say, and when asked about Shaquille O’Neal, he didn’t hold back. Both on the praise and the criticism.
Chamberlain described Shaq as an incredibly powerful player. One who could run through opponents, very much in line with his reputation as the most dominant force the NBA has ever seen. But, as he expanded, that was not all O’Neal brought to the table. He also went on to talk about how Shaq is a celebrity.
It was a statement that suggested he was a fan of The Big Aristotle’s personality. Something that made him a superstar from the moment he was drafted. And, something that was highlighted even further by his move to the Los Angeles Lakers. However, while he did have high praise, he also had criticism, particularly about his weight. He believed, that although Shaq, a heavyset player, was unstoppable, his fitness levels toward the end of the fourth quarter left something to be desired. So, perhaps a more lean and defined “shape” coupled with improved stamina would suit him best.
“He’s a big strong powerful guy that runs on top of people. I like him. He’s [Shaquille O’Neal is] a celebrity and brings something to the table. As a player, for his size he’s extremely agile and I think that he can be taught to play a whole lot better. Well, he puts out, and now that he’s getting himself back in shape a little bit, he can put out a little better. But, he seems to have problems in the last quarter when the Lakers. It must be…since its always in the last quarter, it’s about shape a little bit.”
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Interesting advice from one of the greatest of all time. But, it was advice that the four-time NBA Champion didn’t heed. Over the years, it seemed as though Shaq grew heavier and heavier. Nevertheless, it didn’t stop him from decimating his opponents.
Shaq’s celebrity status helped him get Wilt along with other great centers involved in his first Reebok commercial
Back in 1992, Shaquille O’Neal did his first set of commercials for Reebok. It was a special occasion and one that involved a special group of people. Thanks to his superstar status, Shaq managed to get some of the greatest centers in NBA history on set. This included Bill Walton, Bill Russell, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and the man who realized his burgeoning celebrity status, Wilt Chamberlain.
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It has been 31 years since that shoot. And, in that time, not only has Shaq lived up to expectations, but far exceeded them. He now stands alongside Wilt as one of the all-time greats.