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“I’m Not Discrediting The Dude Is 7’5!”: Shaquille O’Neal Defends Himself On TNT For ‘Hating’ On Victor Wembanyama

Advait Jajodia

"I'm Not Discrediting The Dude Is 7'5!": Shaquille O'Neal Defends Himself On TNT For 'Hating' On Victor Wembanyama

With the NBA regular season reaching its end, fans and analysts begin their conversations about the season accolades. The Defensive Player of the Year award is one such honor that has split the basketball world into two groups – those backing Victor Wembanyama to win it and those siding with Rudy Gobert to win. Shaquille O’Neal has his feet in both boats, believing that Gobert will receive the trophy despite Wembanyama deserving it.

On the latest episode of TNT Tuesday, the panel of Shaquille O’Neal, Adam Lefkoe, Candace Parker, and Jamal Crawford were discussing the Defensive Player of the Race between Rudy Gobert and Victor Wembanyama. While the panel couldn’t reach a solid conclusion, O’Neal believed that Wemby “as a single individual” deserved the defensive honor. At the same time, Shaq also didn’t seem to be impressed by the San Antonio Spurs rookie, stating that the latter is supposed to be good on defense considering he’s 7ft 5”.

“I’m not discrediting, the dude Is 7’5”, he’s supposed to be blocking shots. As a single individual, him playing defense, Defensive Player of the Year, yes,” Shaq said.

Deep-diving into the Gobert vs Wembanyama conversation, Shaq posed a great question to the voters – whether or not the better defensive player wins the award despite their team’s record.

Shaq asked, “His team does not have a winning record, so does that disqualify him as being the Defensive Player of the Year… if his team is not winning?”

In terms of a better defensive individual performance, the 20-year-old is leaps and bounds ahead of his fellow countryman. While the Minnesota Timberwolves big man has lodged merely 2.1 blocks and 0.6 steals per game, Wemby has been averaging a staggering 3.6 blocks and 1.2 steals per game, per Statmuse.

Clearly, Wembanyama has the more eye-catching stats here. However, one can also argue that Gobert has been the biggest reason behind the Wolves having the best defensive rating in the NBA. Whereas, despite Victor’s contributions, the Texas side is among the bottom six franchises for the same.

Whoever may be the more deserving candidate, The Big Aristotle is not justified in expecting Wembanyama to be great at defense solely because he’s 7ft 5”. The Los Angeles Lakers legend is merely coming off as a detractor, continuing to criticize Wemby throughout the season.

Shaquille O’Neal hasn’t been impressed by Victor Wembanyama

Putting up some surreal numbers on a nightly basis, Victor Wembanyama has certainly lived up to all the expectations set for him so far. Being virtually a lock for the 2024 Rookie of the Year award, a majority of analysts and enthusiasts have been left in awe of the European sensation’s production.

However, Shaquille O’Neal might be one of the very few esteemed individuals from the basketball world to not be impressed by the Spurs center’s outings. Throughout the season, Shaq comes off as jealous as he continuously tries to shrug off any of Wemby’s historic feats.

Among other criticisms, Wembanyama has been illogically compared to Bol Bol by Shaq since the season began.

Not just one occasion, but O’Neal has gotten the basketball community livid with the Bol Bol-Victor Wembanyama comparisons on numerous instances.

The comparisons between the two unicorns might not be justified. Taking the comments made by Shaquille O’Neal into consideration, Wembanyama has been a defensive threat solely because he’s 7ft 5”. However, Bol Bol is also roughly the same height as Wemby but has had a subpar defensive performance, to say the least.

As sad as it may sound, as well-respected an analyst as he is, O’Neal seems to be displaying a certain level of hypocrisy.

About the author

Advait Jajodia

Advait Jajodia


Advait Jajodia, a seasoned NBA journalist, has had a passion for the game for over a decade. His journey from admiring Kobe Bryant's precision to being in awe of Stephen Curry's long-range mastery instilled a profound understanding of basketball. With a background as a two-time National-level player, Advait uses his experience on the hardwood to offer insightful analysis. Over three years of dedicated sports journalism has equipped the 21-year-old with a unique perspective, reflected in his prolific portfolio of 3,700+ articles.

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