Shaquille O’Neal almost made Brian Scalabrine quit the NBA for good as the Lakers superstar, according to him, made him feel insignificant.
When talking about the most dominant and physically imposing figures in NBA history, one player nearly always comes in mind: Shaquille O’Neal. Sure, guys like Wilt Chamberlain and even Giannis Antetokounmpo are in the discussion but the Lakers legend’s prime from the mid 90s to the mid 2000s was quite literally the stuff of legend.
Shaquille O’Neal used merely brute force to get what he wanted down-low and as Bill Simmons said, “Shaq was the hardest player to officiate in NBA history.” This was because whenever the LSU alum went up for a bucket, it was unclear on whether or not he got fouled or he was the one who should be called for the offensive foul.
Either way, ‘Hack-a-Shaq’ eventually found its way to the league as a way to help stop the 7-foot, near 300-pounder from dunking over everybody in the paint.
Brain Scalabrine talks about having to guard Shaquille O’Neal in the early 2000s.
Brain Scalabrine recently appeared on the ‘Long Shot’ podcast hosted by Duncan Robinson and talked about having to square off against Shaquille O’Neal in his rookie season of 2001-02. Intentionally fouling Shaq was already a thing when Scal entered the league so his coach at the time told him to foul him as hard as he could when down-low.
Scalabrine talked about how he was astonished at the fact that he was actually guarding Shaq and that trying to hit him was like trying to hit cement. “Oh s—t, I’m going to get my a—kicked by Shaq in front of everybody,” thought Brian but instead, according to him, merely walked over to the free throw line.
“I felt so insignificant; I almost quit the NBA at that point. That was like the only time I was actually afraid of another human being,” said Brian Scalabrine.
This isn’t all too surprising as prime Shaquille O’Neal was too much for quite nearly every single player in the league to handle. His three straight Finals MVPs are proof of how dominant his prime was.