Shaquille O’Neal once let it be known that he used to deflate NBA balls to make them less bouncy during his Lakers days.
Seems as though Tom Brady and his New England Patriots weren’t the only professional sports team to indulge in deflating game balls. Shaquille O’Neal once admitted that to have done the same during his championship runs with the Los Angeles Lakers in the early 2000s, leading to a 3-peat alongside Kobe Bryant.
Upon admitting to having deflated basketballs in the past, Shaquille O’Neal remained adamant in his theory that deflating the ball in way, shape, or form helped in bettering anyone’s shooting. During an episode of Inside the NBA in 2015, Shaq and the rest of the crew tried to put this to the test.
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They made the 3x Finals MVP shoot three free throws with a properly inflated ball and three with a deflated basketball. The conclusion that could be drawn from this is that Shaq isn’t good at free throws regardless of the amount of air inside of the ball he shoots.
Shaquille O’Neal on deflating balls during title runs.
Shaquille O’Neal seemed to have had no issue with deflating game basketballs during his title runs and claimed that he didn’t know whether or not it was against NBA policy to do so.
“Sometimes, in the games during my championship runs, if the ball was too hard, I let out air. I’d have a needle. A friend of mine would have a needle and I would get the game ball; I needed that extra grip but I wasn’t doing that for cheating purposes. I just needed the extra grip for my hands so I could palm it, a la Michael Jordan, the way he used to palm it.”
‘The Big Aristotle’ wasn’t the only one in the NBA to admit to deflating basketballs as Hall of Famer Phil Jackson once said that his 70s championship New York Knicks squads used to do the same.