Orlando Magic rookie Shaquille O’Neal didn’t shy away from challenging Hakeem Olajuwon and David Robinson on air.
The NBA in the 90s was known for its rough style of play, with the bigs dominating the paint. The bully ball was the 3-pointer at the time. The centers gave the guards a hard time, acting as barriers to the rims, something opposite of the current era.
At the time, a generational superstar was born in Shaquille O’Neal, taking the league by storm. The first pick in the 1992 draft, Shaq, was selected by the Orlando Magic. The seven-foot center’s freakish athletic ability and size intimidated the likes of Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen.
The Big Diesel rose to the rankings in no time, winning ROTY, and making All-Star appearances from his debut season. Though he was a terror on the court, Shaq was an entertaining guy who liked to have fun. However, his peers Hakeem Olajuwon and David Robinson viewed this as immaturity.
Shaq was in no mood to hear all this, challenging Hakeem and Robinson during an interview.
Shaquille O’Neal didn’t fear anyone.
The former Magic center never shied away from talking smack, backing it up on the hardwood. His rise to early stardom had many of the league’s established big men bitter, leading to an atmosphere of hostility surrounding Shaq.
MVPs Hakeem Olajuwon and David Robinson would publicly fire shots at O’Neal.
“Shaq likes the attention, he likes to play the media game,” said Spurs legend Robinson.
With Hakeem agreeing to The Admiral’s take.
“I agree with David, he’s (Shaq) supposed to be fun. We’re here to win,” said The Dream.
Shaq did have the last laugh surpassing them in almost all accolades, whether it was the championships, Finals MVPs, or All-Star selections. The memory of Shaq posterizing Robinson in the 1996 All-Star Game was one for the ages. The same game had Shaq score 25-points and 10-rebounds with the east prevailing over the west.
However, one area where Hakeem and Robinson had the edge over the Diesel was defense.
Shaq had a 14-6 record against Hakeem during his career and 11-12 against Robinson.