March 27, 2002

Where does Shaq rank?: No question he'll be going to the Hall of Fame, but where does Shaq rank all-time? He's in my top five...

posted by outside counsel to basketball at 11:24 AM - 4 comments

Shaq rates himself as the #4 center of all time, behind Abdul-Jabbar, Chamberlain, and Russell, and that's largely what the article's about. I don't know enough about the center position or who's played it to rank them, but no way is he top 5 (or top 20) all time at all positions.

posted by kirkaracha at 01:51 PM on March 28, 2002

I really like articles like this... Shaq is one of those sports figures who's so good that his domination seems effortless, and he ends up getting taken for granted - to me he's extremely underrated. It's always hard to compare players across generations in any sport. There are really two questions: (1) where does the player rank in terms of relative domination olf their era, and (2) who would be the best if you could use a time machine and have them compete against each other in their prime. Shaq is ranking himself 4th in the first (relative) sense, and I agree with him - although at the age of 30 he still has time to move up. Later in the article Shaq also says that he would kick Kareem's ass in a time-machine enabled game, which is probably true but not exactly fair. Jabbar would have no idea how to deal with a player like Shaq, simply because he missed out on about 20 years of basketball evolution (compared to Shaq) through an accident of history. The author also tries to "defend" the old guys by playing up their contemporary competition and denigrating Shaq's. But the current dearth of quality centers is a fairly recent phenomenon. For the bulk of Shaq's career he had to go up against probable future hall-of-famers like Olajuwan, Mutombo, Robinson, Ewing and Mourning - not to mention quality players like Smits, Sabonis and Divac - on a regular basis. Wheras Russell's nemeses were Bellamy, Thurmond and um... Zelmo Beaty(?). The old players don't need defending. They were great. So is Shaq. It will probably be 20 years before people realize it.

posted by spork65 at 05:48 PM on March 28, 2002

Shaq is number one in my book, ever since he asked the press to refer to him as "Big Aristotle." It's what I call him to this day. Besides, isn't there more talent in the league nowadays?

posted by insomnyuk at 10:53 PM on March 30, 2002

More on the Big Aristotle quote: In 2000, O'Neal's acceptance speech on being awarded the MVP Trophy began with a quote from the Greek philosopher about excellence. "Mark this down:" the 7-foot-1, 335-pound O'Neal said at the ceremony at the Lakers' practice facility in El Segundo. "From this day forward, I want to be known as The Big Aristotle, because it was Aristotle who said, 'Excellence is not a singular act, but a habit. You are what you repeatedly do.' "

posted by insomnyuk at 10:55 PM on March 30, 2002

You're not logged in. Please log in or register.