“Who’s Guarding Me?” Shaquille O’Neal Claims His Starting Five Including Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant Would Beat LeBron James’ Starting Five

Arun Sharma
|Published 16/01/2023

Which of the five starters would beat whom? – This is a question that generations of fans have pondered. Almost every starting five after 1990 has Shaquille O’Neal and Michael Jordan on one side and LeBron James on the other.

Other players may be expendable, but these three will be in everyone’s starting lineup. And to be honest, why would anyone take them off the starting five? These three are the most dominant players the game has ever seen.

Shaquille O’Neal has every right to believe that his team would beat any team that was put in front of them. Why not, because his team has Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, and Shaquille O’Neal? That is enough to strike fear into anyone.

The opposite numbers are Stephen Curry, LeBron James, Joel Embiid, Kevin Durant, and Giannis Antetokounmpo. A strong lineup for this era, but in front of the 80s and 90s bully ball players? A difficult matchup.

Also Read: Doc Rivers Spews Confusing LeBron James and Michael Jordan ‘GOAT’ Take Before Lakers-Sixers

Who would guard Shaquille O’Neal?

Joel Embiid or Giannis Antetokounmpo—the question is between these two. But who is built to stop a prime 300-pound muscle monster? Nobody, based on how they play in this era. If played today, the number of charges and fouls would be incalculable, but in the same situation in the 1990s, Giannis would snap like a twig.

The Big Diesel was kind enough to give his opposition two games. One more than a gentleman’s sweep. Some might argue that is more than generous, but some would argue otherwise.

The question then becomes which era you play in, rather than who is guarding Shaq.

Also Read: “I’m Not Ranking LeBron James”: Luka Doncic Refuses To Pit Lakers Star Against Michael Jordan Or Anyone Else

Which era would you want this starting 5 to play in?

The key question in any of these comparisons is the era in which they take place. The (g)olden generation would foul out in about 10 minutes if they had to play in today’s NBA. Today’s NBA has almost no contact. How would Big Shaq guard a big man on the perimeter? He’s never seen a guy his size shoot comfortably beyond the arc.

Can you imagine Kobe or Michael trying to hand-check somebody and getting called on it five times in two minutes? However, if the situation were to be reversed, the two games Shaq gave them, would never happen.

The sheer intensity that existed in the 80s and 90s would blow players away. Fouls were different, and the physicality under the basket was different.

But these are all hypotheticals. The only way you can ever do this is to play NBA 2K and have these teams match up.

Also Read: For $90 in 1987, You Could See Michael Jordan, Get Air Jordan 2s, and Attend a Clinic From His Airness

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About the author
Arun Sharma

Arun Sharma

Arun Sharma is an NBA Editor at The SportsRush. A double degree holder and a digital marketer by trade, Arun has always been a sports buff. He fell in love with the sport of basketball at a young age and has been a Lakers fan since 2006. What started as a Kobe Bryant obsession slowly turned into a lifelong connection with the purple and gold. Arun has been an ardent subscriber to the Mamba mentality and has shed tears for a celebrity death only once in his life. He believes January 26, 2020, was the turning point in the passage of time because Kobe was the glue holding things together. From just a Lakers bandwagoner to a basketball fanatic, Arun has spent 16 long years growing up along with the league. He thinks Stephen Curry has ruined basketball forever, and the mid-range game is a sight to behold. Sharma also has many opinions about football (not the American kind), F1, MotoGP, tennis, and cricket.

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