‘I’m the Best Center Out Here’: When Shaquille O’ Neal Got Mad at Reggie Miller for Not Passing to Him During 1996 Olympics

Published 07/20/2021, 11:16 AM EDT
PHOENIX – FEBRUARY 12: Shaquille O’Neal #32 of the Eastern Conference All-Stars cracks a smile against the Western Conference All-Stars during the1995 NBA All-Star Game on February 12, 1995 at the America West Arena in Phoenix, Arizona. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 1995 NBAE (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)


Shaquille O’ Neal, i.e. The Big Diesel needs no introduction. In an illustrious career that spanned close to almost 2 decades, O’ Neal was a 4-time NBA champion, and a 3-time Finals-MVP with 14 All NBA and Rookie of the Year. In fact, ever since Shaq’s days with the Orlando Magic, signs showed back then that he was blossoming into arguably the most dominant force ever in NBA history.

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As Shaq took over the reins in the aftermath of the Jordan era, he and Kobe Bryant would then form the duo that led the league into the new millennium. And needless to say, given the style of NBA basketball back then, O’ Neal had some tough competition.

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In what experts have dubbed as the era of big-men, Shaq went to battle night in and night out with the likes of David Robinson, Tim Duncan, and Hakeem Olajuwon. But, since his coming of age in the late 90s, just his brute force was intimidating.

The Shaquille O’ Neal – Reggie Miller incident

NBA Hall of Famer Reggie Miller in a recent interview on the Dan Patrick show fielded a question pertaining to a humourous conflict between him and O’ Neal at the 1996 Olympics. Team USA was undefeated yet again, owing to its delegation of NBA superstars.

Miller said – “Shaq got upset with me one time and during the Olympics. It wasn’t a beef. But like I kept feeding David Robinson and Hakeem right? And Shaq comes in.” Quoting Big Diesel, he said -“He’s like, what? Okay you gonna feed them, you not gonna feed me.”

When the team has star power like Hakeem, Robinson, and Shaq all on 1 roster, one could imagine why Reggie Miller would have a tough time deciding who to pass to!

Miller continued by saying – “To this day, I tell him this is why you took it out on us in the finals. Right? And, you know, between the Pacers and Lakers, this is why!” Narrating Shaq’s response Miller said – “he’s like no Reg. You know, I just wanted to show Rick Smith. I was like, No, you’re getting me back for 96 right? For not feeding you the ball down low.”

Miller then shared a quote that highlighted O’ Neal’s level of self-confidence which propelled him to scale unchartered heights in the NBA. “He’s like, you know, I’m the best center out here. David Robinson or Hakeem Olajuwon? I’m the best center out here. Give me the ball, feed me the ball.”

Diesel’s legacy

While his luck over the multiple MVP snubs is arguable at best, his personal exploits averaging 27.7ppg/11.8rpg/3.1apg during prime years was unheard of! O’ Neal has earned the ‘G-14’ classification, with the 15-time All-Star commonly hailed as the greatest dominant big man of all time.

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Shaquille O’ Neal had this innate sense of confidence that boded well with Bryant’s Mamba Mentality. They formed a Lakers dynasty that would put the league on notice winning 3 straight titles with Phil Jackson.

And while Shaq called time on his career in 2011, his fanbase is ever-growing, given his charismatic persona on full display on Inside the NBA on TNT.

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Watch this story – Looking Back At Shaquille O’ Neal & Dennis Rodman’s Most Heated Face Offs.

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Nikhil Naik

89 articles

Nikhil Naik is an NBA writer at EssentialySports. Having completed his bachelor's degree in Hospitality, he has worked with the Indian Hotels Company Limited, at the Taj in Mumbai. Nikhil has been playing basketball since 2014.

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