Shaquille O’Neal didn’t impress Wilt Chamberlain with his…

Shaquille O’Neal didn’t impress Wilt Chamberlain with his…

Having established himself early in his career, Shaquille O’Neal is among the greatest players in NBA history. He had already won the scoring title once, been selected as an All-Star starter four times, and made four All-NBA teams by the time he was in his fifth season.

In 1997, Chamberlain was described as “a big, strong, powerful guy who runs up on top of people” on Howard Stern’s radio show. “I like him, and I believe that his celebrity gives him a certain advantage. He is incredibly agile for a player his size. He could, in my opinion, be taught to play much more skillfully.”

Furthermore, in the 1996 offseason, Wilt’s former team signed the top pick from the 1992 draft. A little tension existed between O’Neal and the trailblazing pivot, according to O’Neal, who claimed that when they happened to run into each other at a restaurant, Chamberlain didn’t even acknowledge him.

But when Chamberlain claimed in the Stern interview that Shaq was steamrolling opponents with his strength and agility, he did raise a legitimate point. O’Neal’s endurance was also a major problem at the time. Despite playing an average of about 38 minutes per game at the time, he appeared to tire in the fourth quarter.

Wilt continued, “He can play a little better, but in the last quarter, he seems to have problems.”

Shaq’s lack of desire to get in shape was one of the criticisms directed at him during his playing career. It contributed to strained feelings between him and Kobe Bryant, his Lakers teammate.

“The Stilt,” who was renowned for his extraordinary endurance, was someone from whom the “Big Diesel” might have picked up a few tips.

The 15-time All-Star was fortunate enough to have played for one of the best coaches in history, Phil Jackson. Shaq’s potential was realized with the help of the “Zen Master,” who joined the Lakers during the 1999 offseason. He also employed Chamberlain as a means of inspiring O’Neal to focus on honing his craft.

For O’Neal, it was a bit of a homecoming as Chamberlain’s prediction about him ultimately came to pass, with Jackson serving as the coach who improved his game.

Sadly, Wilt was never able to witness it happen and see Shaq emerge as a winner and MVP. Just prior to the Jackson-O’Neal partnership, in late 1999, the four-time NBA MVP passed away.

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