Shaquille O’Neal Opens Up On How He Looked At Larry Bird Growing Up And Luka Doncic Comparisons

Published 03/04/2021, 3:30 PM EST
NEW YORK, NY – DECEMBER 06: Shaquille O’Neal attends AOL Build to discuss his collaboration with Toys For Tots at AOL HQ on December 6, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Daniel Zuchnik/WireImage)


Shaquille O’Neal is one of the greatest centers in NBA history. As he enjoys his duties on the analyst table at TNT, Shaq is one of the most respected former players around. Shaq shows respect to the generation that preceded him quite often and went in depth on watching Boston Celtics legend Larry Bird play.

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“I wasn’t a fan of what Larry Bird did growing up because I thought everything he did was lucky.”

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Shaq added on to that by talking about a story of how he idolized Magic Johnson and one of his old friends with Larry Bird. However, Shaq grew to appreciate and respect Bird’s game. He then commented on third-year Mavericks guard Luka Doncic being compared to Bird by Bird’s former teammates.

“It is unfair, but listen. I can tell he wants to be great, he will be great. He has a lot to live up to. I remember when in my second year I was named to the NBA Top 50 and people were going crazy. But I knew. I was like, ‘all you old-timers think I’m not top 50, watch this’. Luka has been a pro since 16 so he’s already going up against the best. In 2 or 3 years everyone’s going to fade out.”

Shaquille O’Neal: Correct in his assumption of Luka Doncic?

Feb 8, 2021; Dallas, Texas, USA; Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic (77) reacts after scoring during the second half against the Minnesota Timberwolves at American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Shaq is one of the greatest centers in the NBA. However, he has shown a tendency of being out of touch with modern basketball quite often. This includes his disagreement with Candace Parker from a few days ago over how modern big-men play. But he is spot-on with how he has evaluated Luka.

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While Luka can underplay the Bird comparisons, they are there for a reason. He controls the game like Bird did without having the same size or physical advantage that Larry had. However, Luka makes it up by having an arguably softer touch and playing the guard position where he gets to showcase his skill-set more often than what Bird got to at the forward’s spot.

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Luka may have gotten too much attention too early in his career. However, he proves why he deserves that attention night-in and night-out. Even if Doncic doesn’t become Larry Bird, with his skill-set, he can become a historic player in his own right.

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Ishaan Bhattacharya

1467 articles

Ishaan Bhattacharya is an NBA, NCAA Basketball, and Combat Sports writer at EssentiallySports. Currently, Ishaan is pursuing a Post Graduate Degree in Journalism from Xavier's Institute of Communication. Previously, Ishaan has written for The Indian Express, The Quint, Sportskeeda, and WrestleClub.

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