It’s always amazing when ex NBA players give their two cents on people they played against in their careers. Especially in today’s time, but to a certain extent in past eras as well, you would rarely hear players criticizing each other. Lucky for us, some don’t hide and honestly call it as they saw it.
Dino Radja is one of the latest members of the Hall of Fame, a fantastic player who, as a teen, dominated Europe with Jugoplastika. He continued to have an illustrious international career, which he capped off in the NBA playing for the Celtics. In his biography “Moj galebe” by Milorad Bibic Mosor, Dino talked about players he had matchups against:
“Charles Barkley and Dennis Rodman had a bad reputation of being dirty, too rough, bullies… I played against both of them and never got an elbow or anything like that. Barkley asked me, while we were standing next to each other during a teammate’s free throws, where I was from, how I was managing life in the NBA… Rodman was always fair and would own up every foul. Not even a trace of the alleged roughness.
Unlike Barkley and Rodman, he had a somewhat different opinion on Karl Malone and Dikembe Mutombo:
“Karl Malone, on the other hand, was a dirty player. He took every chance to hit you, to get an unfair advantage. The same goes for Dikembe Mutombo, who was also a big crybaby. He would be hitting you non-stop, and when you give him some back he would immediately flop, start acting out and crying.”
Interesting how individual players have a reputation that, according to Radja, does not correspond to what happened on the court. He also gave his two cents on the best centers in his era:
“Hakeem Olajuwon was an incredibly fair player. Never played with his physical strength, based his entire game on speed and technique. You may be successful on offense against him, but it is very difficult to contain him on defense. Extremely fast, amazing skillset, very precise.
David Robinson was similar to Olajuwon, but in my eyes, Hakeem was a more diverse player. Admiral Robinson was a superior athlete. He never played dirty, always fair.
Shaquille O’Neal is a completely different player compared to Olajuwon and Robinson. Everything is predicated on strength. When he gets the ball in the post, there is nothing you can do. If you try to push him out of the post, it feels like pushing a truck! The best play was to wack him on the hand. The terrifying Shaq Attaq, a great rapper, and actor, was terrible at free throws. He didn’t care; he was 2/15 or 4/20! Completely normal in his world, despite the fact they would pay him to work with a free throw specialist. Unbelievable!”
There you go, these insights by Radja may confirm your opinions about certain players, some may change the way you think about individual players. Whatever you do, if you see Karl Malone, run!!