“The 7-foot-1 Giant” was a hoax used for Shaquille O’Neal, the Lakers big man accepts that he kept playing along because it “sounded” nice.
Shaquille O’Neal alongside being one of the most dominant players of all time is also one of the tallest and heaviest players ever. The Big Aristotle is not only on the list of NBA’s top-50 players of all time but also on its tallest 50-players if you go by his official height.
Listed at 7’1 since making his debut in the league, Shaq played in the era when NBA had no strict policies to measure height weren’t measured. In fact, it wasn’t until October 2019 when the league for the “integrity of information” brought in a policy requiring teams to submit official heights as well as correct ages for every player on the roster.
After that many players’ heights including superstars like Kyrie Irving, and Luka Doncic were trimmed an inch or two as their official heights while Kevin Durant, Kristaps Porzingis, and a few others gained some inches.
So, there must be plenty of players before that whose actual height might have been different from the ones that they officially had throughout their career, and The Diesel as it turns out is one of those guys.
Shaquille O’Neal accepts that he’s not 7-foot-1
Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo claimed on social media that he is taller than O’Neal, maybe after meeting the Lakers’ legend in person. That generally would have infuriated Shaq, but it didn’t. In fact, 3x Finals MVP came out honest on his recent episode of TNT’s The Big Podcast with Shaq and said,
“He (Giannis) is pretty up there. First of all, I’m not 7’1, I’m 6’11. I just played like I was 7’1. And 7 foot 1 just sounded, you know, just so, you know.”
Giant Shaquille O’Neal Admits His Real Height After Revealing He’s Not 7 Ft Tall – EssentiallySports https://t.co/1IIlzXHb8S
— Shaq ONeal club (@ShaqONealclub) April 4, 2022
So whatever might be the reason, be it him moving around with 2-3 inches of sneakers all the time and getting that as his official height or any other reason, NBA went along with the 7’1 narrative because it “sounded better” than 6’11 but kept KD at 6’9 for years even after him looking taller than most of officially 7’0 guys. Well, Shareef O’Neal had his doubts quite early.
There’s no official height requirement to play in the NBA, agreed, but there are only a few players below 6’ feet who ever played in the league, and it’s not more than the number 7-footers.
So, NBA did really mess up big time, didn’t they? Intentionally or not, they have promoted the idea – you can make it big only if you’re tall or show that you’re tall even if you aren’t what the world sees you as.