Allen Iverson, Shaquille O’Neal, and Yao Ming are part of the 2016 Class that will be inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame on Friday. It’s a pretty incredible class that also includes Tom Izzo and Sheryl Swoopes, and as part of the buildup to the induction, there have been plenty of trips down memory lane, including this rather odd one from Shaq.
The Diesel did an interview with The Vertical and said, among other things, that “I only played 30 percent of my real game. I had a great career, but I didn’t get a chance to showcase what I can really do. That’s because the double- and triple-teams were coming so quick, I had to dominate, dominate, dominate inside. I had the ability to step out, go around defenders, dribble by people, but I never got to show that.”
Huh? What a bizarre, strange thing to say. 30 percent of his game because other teams double and triple teamed him?
That’s like Jordan saying he only played a quarter of his game because other teams played defense. Or I’m guessing Tom Brady could throw for 10,000 yards this season if other teams didn’t have cornerbacks. Babe Ruth probably could’ve hit 1,000 home runs if pitchers didn’t throw curveballs. And don’t get me started on Wayne Gretzky’s numbers if goalies were banned.
What does that even mean? That if you were going up against chairs or just being guarded one-on-one, you could’ve done more? Of course. Who couldn’t? That’s sort of the point of double and triple-teams, to limit you and keep you from doing what you otherwise would do.
And actually, given how dominant he was on the inside, I’m sure teams would’ve been happy to see the big guy stepping out and working on his jumper.
Shaq had a great career and there are definitely ways that it could’ve been better, but that argument just made it stranger. And weirder.