Depending on your age and interest in basketball, you may know Shaquille O’Neal only as the very-deep-voiced TNT analyst who always gets into a funny back-and-forth with Charles Barkley. While he is that, the Shaq I remember most fondly was doing a lot of what you see in the above photo.
Shaq the player was 7’1” and 300 some pounds. And he was damn dominant.
Shaq would get his body on you, move you out of his way and dunk on anyone — anyone — in the NBA with impunity. The photo above is from the 2001 NBA Finals. The Sixers’ Allen Iverson had deservedly won the league’s MVP award that season, and the Sixers had made a midseason trade for center Dikembe Mutombo (he’s the defender in the photo). Mutombo had a well-earned reputation as the best defensive player in the whole NBA; he won the league’s Defensive Player of The Year award FOUR times (only Ben Wallace has matched that feat). The Mutombo acquisition was specifically for the possibility that the Sixers would see Mr. O’Neal & Co. in the 2001 Finals.
Well, they did. And Shaq absolutely destroyed Mutombo.
Bodied up Mutombo and dunked on him like in that photo multiple times. MULTIPLE TIMES. I was in the “Kobe is better than Iverson” camp back then, when that was a real debate, so I was happy to see the Lakers win. And I respect Mutombo for playing Shaq straight-up — no flopping, no complaining to the refs. But Shaq ate Mutombo’s lunch in the 2001 Finals.
Fast forward to now.
My hometown Sixers are finally really good again, having won their first round(podcast) series against the Heat (they’re currently facing Boston in round 2). The vanquished Miami Heat’s highest-paid player is a guy named Hassan Whiteside. The Heat furnished Hassan with a $100 Million contract a couple years ago. But the NBA has changed quickly, and guys like Whiteside — big, slow, cannot shoot threes or function well away from the basket area — aren’t quite as needed as they were just three seasons ago. But, Whiteside is still under contract, and was still a starter for the Heat.
Befitting his contract, Whiteside believed (and I think he still believes) that he should’ve been getting the ball more — a lot more. Kind of like Shaq had gotten the ball in Shaq’s day. I know Whiteside believes this, because he’s come out and directly said as much. Late in the regular season, Hassan voiced displeasure to the media about not playing enough in the fourth quarter of some games. Even in the Playoffs, Whiteside griped about not getting the ball enough on offense.
My personal opinion on Whiteside is that he doesn’t have much of an offensive repertoire; he was signed to such a healthy contract because of his ability to rebound and block shots. Any offense he produces is gratuitous. But my opinion on his game doesn’t matter. If Hassan Whiteside believes he should be getting the ball more, it’s within his rights to feel that way.
That is, as long as he’s producing when he does get it.
Which brings us back to Shaq.
At halftime of one of those Sixers-Heat games, Shaq addressed Whiteside’s give me the ball griping. At 4:26 of this clip, aided by video proof, Shaq shows how Whiteside’s actions weren’t matching his talk — you even hear Shaq yelling at the video clips in a way I’d never heard Shaq yell; it’s like father-yelling-at-his-children kind of yelling. Charles Barkley chimes in additional commentary, and they’re both 100% right.
Whiteside is still the highest-paid Heat player and I’m not sure the Heat have the roster and salary maneuverability to trade him elsewhere. Whether he remains in Miami or not, his attitude will be with him anywhere he’s at. If thatdoesn’t change, he may soon find himself out of the NBA.
For Your Game
- If you claim you want something — and would go as far as to complain about not getting or having it — you’d better be performing actions that show you’re for real. As Shaq says, ACT LIKE YOU WANT IT!!! If you want a book deal, write a book. If you want a TV show, start recording. If you want a Grammy Award, schedule studio time. You shouldn’t even have to say anything about what you want, because your actions are screaming it loudly.
- Those clips and this story make Hassan Whiteside look really bad; his name was being dragged through the Twitter mud during that first round series. But I get messages from players who offer the exact same complaints that Whiteside had about not getting playing time or not getting the ball. My response to this, which can metaphorically apply to all areas of life (I’m not getting the opportunity; no one gives me a chance): With what little opportunity you have, earn the rest. This brings to mind another story that will get its own post soon.
- Anytime your lack of _____________ is someone else’s fault, you become a powerless victim. Powerless victims don’t do well in life, can’t control their destinies and will always be subject to what everyone else decides for them. Don’t be a powerless victim — and please don’t send me a story about how your situation is somehow different. It drains my energy to even read them.
What do you need to stop talking about and just DO? Reply and share if you want — or you can just do it, and tell me about it after it’s done.