Former NBA Champ Nazr Mohammed elucidated how Shaquille O’Neal was the most dominant player he has ever faced. Naz also disclosed how he would prepare to guard the Lakers legend.
Shaquille O’Neal is unarguably the most dominant figure in all of NBA basketball. The 7-foot-1 325-pound monster was too gruesome for any defender to guard. In his nearly 20-year long career, Shaq night in and night out commanded over the paint on both sides of the court.
Because of the huge size advantage he had over his fellow competitors, The Diesel was able to rack up one of the most decorated resumes in the history of the league. Shaq had 15 All-Star appearances, 14 All-NBA selections, 2 Scoring titles, 4 NBA Championships, 3 Finals MVPs, 1 MVP, 28,596 points, numerous posterizers and several shattered backboards under his belt in his illustrious 19 seasons career.
It is pretty understandable why any defender would fear going up against Shaq. Former NBA Champ Nazr Mohammed was one of the many players who O’Neal got the better off on all their instances. This is why Naz called Shaq “the most dominant big man” he’s ever faced.
“It was a great night defensively if Shaquille O’Neal only had 20 points and 10 rebounds with no dunks”: Nazr Mohammed
Back in 2015, during the dying years of his NBA career, Mohammed sat down with “The Players’ Tribune” and named the 6 toughest players he had to face in his 18-year long career. Apart from naming Rasheed Wallace, Dirk Nowitzki, Yao Ming, Tim Duncan, and Kevin Garnett, Naz also mentioned Shaquille O’Neal and spoke about his dominance.
“The morning after you played Shaq, it always felt like you were in a fight. You were sore from head to toe. This probably won’t shock people, but Shaq was the most dominant big man I’ve ever faced. He’s in a class of his own. Shaq’s the player who kept me up at night wondering, “How the hell am I going to stop him?” Or, more realistically, slow him down, because nobody could stop him.
Taking away his move meant not giving him a dunk, which of course is setting your defensive bar pretty low. It also meant sacrificing your body by trying to stop a 320+ pound man from getting to his sweet spot on the court.”
Nazr also explained how he would prepare to guard the Lakers legend
Believe it or not, according to Nazr, if a player contained Shaq to only 20 points and 10 rebounds with no dunks in a game, that would be considered as a great game defensively.
“In order to guard him, or at least attempt to guard him, you had to do your work early. That meant getting back on defense quickly and trying to meet him at the free throw line. From there, you’d basically brace yourself for impact in a collision that you were physically incapable of winning.
Honestly, Shaq could have earned a foul call on pretty much every play of his career. I mean, the only way to guard the guy was to either push or hold him, which was usually considered a foul. It’s almost like he was being punished for being stronger than his opponents. If a defender stood in there and took the hit, he could draw the foul on Shaq. Sometimes being the loser in a battle for position was rewarded.
But refs couldn’t call games with Shaq the same way they called other games. They just couldn’t. Opposing teams would have fouled out all of their big men by the middle of the second quarter.
When I saw him on the schedule, my main goal was to just not let him dunk the ball. That was it.
You knew he was going to get good shots, but trying to keep him from dunking ensured that I stayed aggressive. In his prime, it was a good night for you defensively if you held Shaq to 20 points and 10 rebounds with no dunks. Hell, that was a great night defensively!”