Back in ’19, Kevin Garnett and Adam Sandler were guests on Bill Simmons’ podcast to promote their movie ‘Uncut Gems.’ But instead of discussing their motion picture project, the three ended up talking about the NBA.
It was mostly Garnett who shared stories and experiences from his 21-year run in the association. KG talked about how Dennis Rodman ran on a treadmill after he finished a game. He talked about his relationship with LeBron James and the animosity between his Celtics and LBJ’s Miami Heat. He described his workout routine during and after his run in the league and even touched upon the greatness of Allen Iverson. And he kept his cool throughout all of it — until Simmons started to criticize Shaquille O’Neal.
The discussion was about Joel Embiid not being all in and him not using physicality to his advantage. Naturally, Garnet brought up Shaq as Embiid’s counterpart physicality-wise, and the one who would never “let the players off the hook.” Simmons’ response was something on the lines of, “yeah, but Shaq only went hard one season, and he shouldn’t be the standard for the Sixers’ center in terms of taking care of his body and staying in shape.” Here’s what The Big Ticket had to say about that.
You didn’t play against Shaq. Shaq’s power is brute strength. Once he got to the Lakers, he was on some Superman, Ironman, putting everybody in the basket, and that was all predicated off of Phil, telling him to build himself up that you’re stronger coming down the Playoffs.Kevin Garnett, The Ringer
According to Garnett, Phil Jackson gave Shaq a formula because he was wearing down in the Playoffs. The formula was “build-up to get beat down.” Translation – be bigger than everybody, and impose an unattainable level of physicality come postseason time. And even though even Kobe criticized Diesel, saying he would’ve had 12 rings had Shaq been in shape for the entirety of their run together, Garnett doesn’t see it like that.
He looked out of shape; he still averaged 25, 12, and something else. Get the fu*k out of here. That’s not out of shape. When you’re out of shape, you’re not scoring 25 a night.Kevin Garnett, The Ringer
Garnett played against prime Shaq numerous times; hence the debunking of Shaq didn’t take care of his body narrative. KG felt the power of 7-1 giant firsthand, and I bet he never felt out of shape to him. That’s Garnett’s point all along — no matter the level of conditioning Shaq was at, never underestimate how physically dominant the guy was.