Shaquille O’Neal is considered by most to be one of the greatest NBA centers of all-time, with his mere presence bolstering the capability of teams even well outside his prime years of playing.
Notwithstanding, Shaq has never been one to praise another player — if they’d earned it, of course. So who does Shaq consider his favorite NBA player of all-time?
“David Robinson is my favorite player ever. I love David Robinson,” O’Neal revealed on Robinson’s NBA 75 Stories feature.
Shaq explained that before David Robinson came on the scene, most of the professional basketball-related news revolved around Shaq himself. However, once David Robinson was drafted by the San Antonio Spurs and began playing for them in 1990, some of the spotlight shifted away from Shaq and onto Robinson — something which Shaq didn’t take lightly.
“I met him in high school. Because before David came to San Antonio, Shaquille O’Neal was the big cheese in San Antonio, Texas. Every San Antonio express, everyone on the sports page during basketball season – me, me, me, me, me. Who’s this young kid on the army base putting up all these numbers? Now they [the Spurs] draft David Robinson, he takes my shine away.”
Despite this, Shaq still couldn’t take umbrage with Robinson because he was such a kind and amiable individual.
“I loved him so much that I had to make up a fake story to be able to play against him because David was a nice man,” O’Neal explained. “He’s just so nice. So, now when I play against him I’m like, ‘I can’t be mean to a guy that nice and then I have to make up a story’… Because me, when I get upset, I play harder and I play better. So, I had to make up a wild story in my head to go against him.”
Shaq divulged that there was never any animosity between he and Robinson off the court — he simply had to fabricate a story in his head to play more competitively against Robinson because that was what more successfully motivated him.
“I don’t hate Dave off the court,” Shaq revealed. “I just had to dominate him because I got tired of the Goody Two-Shoes image he was throwing out there. He was this crossover guy everyone liked. And I was this big, bad wolf dunking on everyone. Everyone was trying to make it out to be black and white, and it didn’t seem right. So, I had to do him like that.”
Shaq and David Robinson went head-to-head a total of 40 times during their careers, with Shaq averaging 25.5 points, 12.7 rebounds, 2.3 assists, and 2.5 blocks in their contests and “The Admiral” averaging 14.8 points, 8.8 rebounds, and 2.0 assists. The two players split 20 wins a piece against one another.
What do you think of the fact that Shaq named his favorite NBA player (David Robinson) and why he had to make up a story to play well against him? Do you think Shaq or David Robinson did better when they played against one another? Let us know in the comments.