“First of all, he’s awesome and he’s got thin skin and I’m old school," Charles Barkley once said about Shaquille O'Neal. "And you know, old school, if something bothers somebody, you got to keep poking the bear. He gets mad at me sometimes, you know. Imma keep poking the bear cause that’s the best thing about sport."
Chuck's frustrations with Shaq
The dynamic between the two Hall of Famers is what makes TNT's Inside The NBA the best show on TV. And according to Chuck, it's all done deliberately.
Every time he pokes the bear, Barkley does it to provoke a reaction. And the viewers love it -- back-and-forths between Shaq and Chuck are as funny as they come. Whether it's discussing off-the-court stuff or commenting on the game, the two are a lock to get into an argument. And while it's all done in good faith, it can get frustrating for Barkley.
"I hope I piss him off," Barkley said in the latest episode of "The Draymond Green Show." "What he really don't understand is he's always been the best player and the biggest, baddest dude. What me and Kenny try to explain to him, 'Hey dude, we ain't more talented than everybody you played against.'"
"Nobody's like you and Wilt"
Over the years, Shaq became a victim of his own greatness, so much so that he tends to trivialize the game to the extent that was enough for him to be an unmatched dominant force. All of his basketball skills aside, O'Neal based his game on physicality, and according to Barkley, he expects everyone else to do the same thing.
"He's like, 'Why don't they just get the ball to the big man and let him dominate?' Shaq, nobody's like you and Wilt Chamberlain, there's a strategy.
To say Shaq's game was one-dimensional would be an insult to his greatness. However, the fact is O'Neal was never really forced to diversify his offensive repertoire -- being 7-1 did the trick.
Shaq was a very good post-up player; he could turn left for a jump hook, had a good right shoulder turnaround, could take his guys off the dribble, and had an unstoppable drop step inside the paint. However, none of those moves would've been as effective without his unmatched athletic abilities.
The combination of the two made Shaq into one of the greatest forces we've ever seen. And according to Barkley, Diesel still operates under the assumption that everyone is blessed with the same gifts.
"Then he goes, 'But you didn't win a championship.' I say, 'You right, but we're talking basketball strategy.' And I know, every time I call him out on this strategy he gets so pissed. And I love it," Barkley said.
When I played against Bird, McHale, Karl Malone, or Kevin Garnett, I had to watch the tape and figure out how I'm gonna be successful against this dude. I really had to think. I'm gonna be 6-5 every day.
Going up against guys much bigger than him, Chuck couldn't rely on his frame to put him over the top. And that's something Shaq has trouble understanding. That's why Barkley promised to keep poking the bear until the bear finds a way to wrap his head around it. And we as viewers couldn't be happier about it.