A top 15 coach of all time, Erik Spoelstra calls Shaquille O’Neal a big-time player and a force to rely on during big moments.
A physical specimen blessed with cat-like reflexes, Shaquille O’Neal instilled fear in his opponents with his mere seven-foot frame. The league is yet to come across a dominant force as the Big Diesel. The NBA Hall of Famer accomplished almost every accolade in the book during his 19-seasons career.
Shaq rose to the peak of superstardom, donning the purple and gold uniform for 8-seasons, playing alongside the late Kobe Bryant. O’Neal had a 3-peat with the Lakers and was the Finals MVP each time. Unfortunately, the Lakers decided to part ways with Shaq after an 8-year association.
Shaq left the Staples Center on a bitter note to join forces with a young Dwyane Wade in Miami. The Big Diesel was out to prove to everyone that the Lakers made a big mistake of choosing Kobe over him. The seven-foot center would finish as the MVP runner-up in his very first season with the Heat.
Having been the assistant coach during Shaq’s era in Miami, Erik Spoelstra addressed the former Heat center as a big game, big moment, and a big-time player.
Erik Spoelstra talks about Shaquille O’Neal’s presence fueling the entire crew during playoffs.
Shaq was already an established superstar when he arrived in Miami, adding experience to the young lineup of the Heat. The two-time scoring champion took D-Wade under his wing, the result being the Heat winning its first championship in 2006.
The Diesel was now a four-time champion, giving Wade the keys to the car. Spoelstra, who was an assistant coach with the Heat during Shaq’s stint, revealed some insights about the Diesel during an episode of NBA’s 75 stories.
“When you needed big moments from Shaq the most, that’s when he brought it, he was a big game, big moment, big-time player. He had an ability to put a team on his back and you just felt that confidence when he was on-in those biggest moments during the playoffs, some players can’t reach that level but he can go to a different level and bring people along with him where you felt absolutely a chance not only to win games in the playoffs but immediately when he was there you start thinking, okay this is a title run opportunity.”
The fifteen-time All-star played four seasons with the Heat before being traded to the Phoenix Suns. Post winning his fourth ring in 2006, Shaq had slowed down with injuries getting the better of him. However, he had mentored a superstar in D-Wade for the future of the Heat.