During a conversation with John Salley, Phil Jackson spoke about the comparisons between Wilt Chamberlain and Shaquille O’Neal.
Phil Jackson had an illustrious career in the NBA, both as a player and coach. The Hall of Famer has a combined total of 13 NBA championships, which included two as a player and eleven as a head coach.
Jackson played a vital role in shaping the careers of Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Kobe Bryant, and Shaquille O’Neal. Phil is the only coach in NBA history to have 3-peated with two different teams. Thus Jackson was a part of several eras in the NBA.
During his conversation with former NBA player John Salley, Jackson spoke about the comparisons between Wilt Chamberlain and Shaquille O’Neal. Both Chamberlain and O’Neal were some of the most dominant centers in their respective eras.
Jackson was the head coach of the LA Lakers from 1999-2004 when Shaq was a dominant figure on the roster. During his playing days, Jackson had a handful of encounters with Wilt the Stilt.
Phil Jackson breaks down the comparisons between Wilt Chamberlain and Shaquille O’Neal
Both the seven-foot centers terrorized their opponents, especially in the paint. Thus leading to one of the topmost barbershop conversations of who is the best centers. Having played against Chamberlain and coached Shaq, Jackson was the perfect candidate to answer the above question.
The former Lakers coach would discuss the strengths and weaknesses of Chamberlain and O’Neal, breaking down their entire game.
“I played six years against Wilt Chamberlain, and he was a guy that was slow to anger, a tremendous athlete. He played under his limitations a lot. I had to play center one year, and one of the things you were thought was — just get into Wilt’s path; he doesn’t like offensive fouls; if you fake an offensive foul or take charge to speak, he really stops becoming aggressive. That was one thing that was a limitation in Wilt’s game.”
During the conversation, Jackson revealed Chamberlain had led the league in assist during 1968, to which John Salley reacted with surprise.
On the other hand, Shaq had 3-peated under coach Jackson during his stint in the Lakers. Big Diesel was the 3x Finals MVP in the 3-peat. Thus Jackson knew all parts of Shaq’s game, having developed him as a player.
“Shaquille didn’t have quite the same athleticism that Wilt had,” said Jackson. “He had the bounce and he had the speed, but he didn’t have the endurance.”
While comparing the two legends, Jackson spoke about their strengths and weaknesses.
“Shaq had a jump hook, whereas Wilt didn’t have a jump hook.”
“Free-throw shooting (pause for laughter), I think that free throw shooting was a big weakness on both sides.”
It is clear with Jackson’s analysis that Chamberlain was a more skilled center than O’Neal while the latter was more dominant than Wilt the Stilt. Though both played in different eras, they both excelled in their games.