“Changed the Game”: Jermaine O’Neal Explains How Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal Revolutionized the NBA

Published 08/14/2021, 9:39 AM EDT
AUSTIN, TX – OCTOBER 14: American Express Brings Together Rapper Travis Scott and Sport’s Legend Shaquille O’Neal at Austin City Limits Festival on October 14, 2018 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Rick Kern/Getty Images for American Express)


In basketball, a sizable figure can be both advantageous and a curse. You get the desired height and build advantage over your opposition, but it is all the more difficult to stay agile, fit, and maintain your body. When we talk of big-made legends, one name comes to mind in particular – Shaquille O’Neal, who transformed the sport in more ways than one. He was an inspiration for many future stars and changed everyone’s outlook on the sport and the league.

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Jermaine O’Neal on how Shaquille O’Neal and his impact is undermined

Regarded as one of the greatest centers in the history of the sport, Shaquille O’Neal set the benchmark for generations to come. The superstar stands at 7’1 and had the level of basketball just as large as his height.

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In a career spanning two decades, O’Neal was one of the most feisty characters that stepped foot in the league. As if the Los Angeles Lakers weren’t already strong enough, the giant added to the intimidation and quality of the setup.

Despite that, he was not always the star attraction.

Former NBA player Jermaine O’Neal believed that Shaquille had an unmatched impact on the NBA. In a recent interview on ‘All the Smoke’ with Showtime Basketball, the former All-star spoke about how underrated O’Neal was.

“Shaq [Shaquille O’Neal], people don’t realise how big Shaq is, bruh, how agile he was, how strong he was. I mean, it was like he was playing with a little tennis ball all the time in his hand, because he was so big.

“But he just changed the game, bruh, and many times the league didn’t know how to officiate Shaq. He was that agile, he was.. I don’t know if we’ll ever see a specimen of a player like that ever again.”

Shaq’s insane numbers

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It is never easy for such powerhouse players to uphold their longevity in the league. However, Shaquille O’Neal did so, and how! Primarily for the Lakers, Shaq combined with his fellow teammates to wreak havoc. In his career, the devastating center averaged close to 24 points and 11 rebounds per game. His mere physical ability combined with his skill were second to none.

29609.SP.0513.lakers9.WS Lakers Kobe Bryant, left, celebrates his 48–points with Shaquille O’Neal after defeating the Kings in Game 4 of the Western Conference Semifinals at the Arco Arena in Sacramento. (Photo by Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

Even before joining LA, Shaq dominated his way to greatness with the Orlando Magic. This earned him multiple accolades over the years. He is a four-time NBA Champion, three-time NBA Finals MVP, and a 15-time NBA All-star. Added to this, the 49-year-old had also been the league’s Rookie of the Year way back in 1993.

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The legendary Shaquille O’Neal is undoubtedly a player who will be remembered for ages. As Jermaine pointed out himself, he turned the whole league on its head. It will be interesting to see which center can reach the level of the great Shaq in the years to come, if at all.

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Sankalp Harikrishnan

240 articles

Sankalp Harikrishnan is a tennis and NBA writer at EssentiallySports. He aspires to pursue Sports Journalism and has represented his institution in cricket, badminton, football, and table tennis. Apart from his professional desires, Sankalp does voluntary service with his friends to feed hungry animals on a regular basis.

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