NBA legend Shaquille O’Neal’s eye-opening take on facing peak Michael Jordan

NBA legend Shaquille O’Neal’s eye-opening take on facing peak Michael Jordan

One of the most entertaining aspects of NBA interviews is seeing fellow legends give each other props. Michael Jordan, of course, is one of the most talked about former players when people discuss the league’s history.

15-time NBA All-Star Shaquille O’Neal spoke about the icon via his The Big Podcast.

It’s not often that mere mortals get compared to the man above, but it’s happened multiple times with Jordan. On April 20th, 1986, Celtics legend Larry Bird was so impressed with Jordan’s 63-point performance in their playoff bout that he said it was “God disguised as Michael Jordan,” via Harvey Glassbrook of Sports Illustrated.

On the podcast episode with JJ Redick Wednesday, O’Neal echoed Bird’s sentiments. Redick asked him what it was like sharing the floor with Jordan in 1992, O’Neal’s rookie year.

“I don’t know what God looks like, it’s like seeing God,” “Shaq” said. “Because the stuff that he did on TV, and then you see it in real life. It’s like ‘oh my God, this is really real.’”

Newer NBA fans may not be fully aware of Jordan’s greatness. How was he able to make fellow world-class athletes compare him to a higher power?

It speaks volumes that Shaq reveres Jordan so much. “Diesel” was a formidable force himself, winning the NBA Finals MVPs, eight All-NBA First Team awards, and two scoring titles. He also had his jersey retired by the Magic, Lakers and Heat.

However, Jordan was so good that some fans think he’s the father of a couple of the league’s stars. Anthony Edwards and Jimmy Butler have been compared to the six-time NBA champion both for their reminiscent appearances and play styles on the court. The latter two have relied on their explosive athleticism and leadership skills to excel, similar to Jordan.

While LeBron James has had the most longevity ever, nobody has touched Jordan’s peak. The five-time MVP had led the Bulls to two different three-peat runs, one before and one after his retirement. He also never lost a Finals series, and never even needed seven games to win one.

Jordan finished his career averaging 30.1 points on 49.7% shooting with 6.2 rebounds and 5.3 assists per game. He’s still tied with Wilt Chamberlain for the most points per game in NBA history.

“One of the first plays of the game, in my mind I was like ‘I am not getting dunked on,’” Shaq continued. “So I tried to meet him early. He slipped by me, I bumped him, and he still laid it up…the crowd went crazy. I was like this…this guy’s real.”

With Shaq being 7’1 and over 300 pounds, it’s impressive that Jordan was able to fight through contact against him. “His Airness” had a way of jumping and contorting his body in ways that haven’t been replicated since.

While some fans still debate if Jordan is the greatest of all time, it may be best to wait until another player gets compared to God multiple times to dethrone him.

Joshua Valdez started his journalism career as the Sports Editor for the Rutgers University newspaper before becoming an associate editor for ClutchPoints, covering the MLB, NFL, and NBA.

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