‘Don’t Think He Should Look at it as a Disservice’: Shaquille O’Neal Has a Message for Zion Williamson and Their Evergreen Comparison

Published 04/22/2021, 6:30 AM EDT
LOS ANGELES, CA – JULY 16: Shaquille O’Neal is seen at ‘Jimmy Kimmel Live’ on July 16, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by RB/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images)


Zion Williamson is hardly two seasons old and is still the closest someone has come to touching the legacy of Shaquille O’Neal. He is becoming a do-it-all guy on the court, producing big numbers each night, whether the Pelicans win or lose. 

ADVERTISEMENT

Article continues below this ad

When Zion entered the league, his comparisons to Shaq were mostly dependent on his humongous size. However, with his consistency in the scoring, especially in 2020-21, new comparable parameters are featuring on the scale. So should Zion feel overwhelmed about this whole narrative?

Shaquille O’Neal sent a clear message to Zion Williamson

ADVERTISEMENT

Article continues below this ad

In a recent interview, the four-time NBA Champion rejected the claim that the comparisons can make Zion Williamson feel bad. The NBA Hall of Famer expressed:

“It’s a wouldn’t say it’s a dishonor. But it’s that, when you get compared to the greats, people see something in you. Now, I was taught that being great is about being super consistent. Whenever I had two or three bad games in a row, I would get the call from the board, ‘hey man, what you’re doing? Great guys don’t do this, Kareem never had to be like.’ So, it should be out. He’s putting up good numbers, he’s playing hard, he’s playing well. I don’t think he should look at it as a disservice… He can possibly be better.” 

Comparing the two from the data point of view, Zion has played just 77 games in his career so far. That is still fewer than the many Shaquille O’Neal played in his rookie season alone. However, after making the comeback from his knee troubles, Zion is averaging close to 27 points at 61.7% from the field. Now, it had taken Shaq 12 seasons to average 60+ FG% in 2005 (with the Heat). So Zion is definitely making an early case for a future legendary status. 

Read also – Former NBA Champion Shuts Down Comparisons Between Zion Williamson and Shaquille O’Neal

When Shaq had his own idol to chase as a young athlete

ADVERTISEMENT

Article continues below this ad

In the same interview, the Big Shamrock hinted at Zion that it was good to have someone to chase. He detailed his own example and said, “I was going after one guy, Wilt Chamberlain, I wanted to break all his records. I beat him in championships, I wanted to beat him in points… So I was going to arrogantly say, I’m Shaquille O’Neal, I’m the most dominant player ever.”

Shaq entered the league almost two decades after Wilt’s retirement. Interestingly, he won double the number of NBA titles that The Bug Dipper won. However, as fate would have it, he landed right below Wilt’s 31,419 career points and retired at the figure of 28,596.

Now, if Zion makes it his dream to win more championships than Shaq did, he will not just beat the big man, but also draw further comparisons with other legends. 

ADVERTISEMENT

Article continues below this ad

Do you think Zion will ever be able to match Shaq’s records? 

SHARE THIS ARTICLE :

Sourabh Singh

1107 articles

Sourabh Singh is an NBA sports analyst for EssentiallySports, who has been working with the site since May 2020. Prior to this, he functioned as Managing Editor at WittyFeed, followed by a stint at Decathlon. The Sports Management graduate leads an active lifestyle, veering to the mountains for off-trail adventures.

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT