Gary Payton shockingly claims that Hakeem Olajuwon was much better than Shaquille O’Neal and that the former could drop 40 on Shaq anytime.
Shaquille O’Neal is undoubtedly the most dominant player to have graced NBA hardwood since Wilt Chamberlain did in the 1960s. Most misconceive Shaq to be a player who was only out on the floor to dunk on opposing defenses but it should be noted that the Lakers legend has actually made the most fields goals from 6-7 feet away from the basket in the past 20 years.
As for Hakeem Olajuwon, his versatility was off the charts. His game on the offensive end of the floor ranged from his ability to dominate in the post with nifty footwork to his knack for being able to spot up from 18 feet away from the hoop. The fact that he could take his defender off the dribble also set him apart from any superstar of his time.
It’s only natural that players with such opposing playstyles like that of Shaquille O’Neal and Hakeem Olajuwon’s would butt heads on the grandest stage of them all at least once in their career.
Gary Payton takes his pick between Hakeem Olajuwon and Shaquille O’Neal.
Gary Payton has ruffled feathers with both Shaquille O’Neal and Hakeem Olajuwon on several occasions. The Rockets and the SuperSonics were two top tier teams in the 1990s while Payton had his fair share of run-ins with O’Neal. He would go on to be teammates with the latter on the disappointing ‘04 Lakers.
It’s safe to say that Payton would be able to gauge whether one was better than the other and it would come as shocking to many when they find out that the 2006 NBA champ picked ‘The Dream’ for who the better player was. Not only did he say Hakeem was ‘way, way better’ than Shaq, but also claimed the 4x champ could not guard him.
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He would go on to provide his reasoning by saying Hakeem could do several things a guard could do, as explained previously. Payton believes that the Rockets legend could drop 40 on Shaquille O’Neal anytime he wanted.
In all fairness, Hakeem Olajuwon did sweep a young Shaq’s Orlando Magic in the 1995 NBA Finals while averaging an otherworldly 32 points and 11 rebounds for the series.