Luka Doncic vs Shaquille O’Neal: Which NBA Giant Was the Taller Teenager Growing Up?

Published 05/23/2022, 12:10 AM EDT

Luka Doncic took the NBA by storm after entering the league in 2018. After becoming the Rookie of the year in his first season, he elevated his game to an MVP level and almost single-handedly took his team, the Dallas Mavericks, to the playoffs.

The utmost effectiveness of Doncic’s slow, hesitant, herky-jerky moves baffled many critics. But he consistently improved his game every year and effectively silenced the naysayers.

The finished product that is Luka’s game resulted from playing among grown men from a very young age in Europe. The outcome is pretty evident.

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May 28, 2021; Dallas, Texas, USA; Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic (77) brings the ball up court against the LA Clippers during the first quarter in game three in the first round of the 2021 NBA Playoffs at American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Doncic is confident, fearless, and experienced at the young age of 23. In fact, he has carried the Dallas Mavericks to the Western Conference finals this season without a second All-Star present on the team.

Shaquille O’Neal and Luka Doncic as teenagers

After Luka’s remarkable performance this postseason, he has been compared to many great players like Michael Jordan, LeBron James, Larry Bird, and others.

But one great player he has not been compared with is Shaquille O’Neal. The reason is quite obvious.

018634.SP.1101.lakers.AR The Los Angeles Lakers Shaquille O’Neal(left) and Kobe Bryant prior to game against Utah at the Staples Center on 11/1/00. (Photo by Anacleto Rapping/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

Doncic is a 6’8″ crafty point guard while Shaq was a 7’1″ physically dominant center. They literally couldn’t be any different.

However, they were not so dissimilar in terms of height as teenagers. Shaq was 6’7″ as a 16-year-old.

Quite surprisingly, Doncic was an inch taller at 16. He was a 6’8″ point guard tearing apart defenses for Real Madrid.

Ultimately, Shaq grew much taller with age to become a 7’1″ giant and an absolute force of nature. But Doncic remained pretty much the same in his early 20s.

Shaquille O’Neal as a kid growing up

Both Luka and Shaq were big kids growing up. Shaq faced a lot of problems due to his height.

His mother found it difficult to get shoes for him. The 4-time NBA champion would put his shoes in hot water for hours on end to stretch them to fit his feet.

Therefore, Shaq is always empathetic to kids facing similar problems. He once donated 10 pairs of shoes to a 6’2″ 13-year-old with size 18 feet.

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Furthermore, he discarded a lucrative deal with Reebok to build his own Shaq brand, in partnership with Walmart, to make shoes more affordable for kids.

Watch this story: “What’d They Do?”: NBA Fans Confused as Luka Doncic’s Mavericks Hit With $100,000 Setback Ahead of Warriors Clash

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On the other hand, Luka didn’t have to face similar problems, because his father was a basketball coach and a former player.

How many titles do you think Luka will end up with? Will he cross Shaq, who won 4 NBA titles?

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Satagni Sikder

165 articles

Satagni Sikder is an NBA writer for EssentiallySports. He has a Master's degree in English from Jadavpur University, Kolkata, and has been following the NBA since 2017. Moreover, he supports the Dallas Mavericks, and unsurprisingly, Luka Doncic is his favorite player.

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