Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green once again went on his podcast to share thoughts on his fourth championship title. He enumerated some of the players who also have at least four rings on their resume. Interestingly, Green’s all-time favorite player is part of that exclusive list.
The most dominant
Green revealed that his favorite player of all time is Shaquille O’Neal. He was a big fan ever since Shaq’s first few years with the Orlando Magic. Apart from O’Neal’s Magic jersey, Green also once owned other classic merchandise.
"Shaq Diesel, who I said a million times, was growing up for me, like it was Shaq. Huge Shaq fan, had the zip up Orlando Magic onesie, my night light was Orlando Magic... the Magic jersey with the lines in it, him and Penny jerseys,” Green said, per The Volume.
It’s quite interesting that Shaq is Green’s favorite player given their starkly different playstyles. One would assume that Green looked up to someone like Dennis Rodman, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, or Scottie Pippen.
Green explains why Shaq became his favorite player. He didn’t necessarily borrow Shaq’s post-up techniques. Instead, Green took Shaq’s dominant gameplay and turned it into his mantra.
“Growing up, for me, my favorite player of all time is Shaq. Just the way he dominated. I've been actually going back and watching some of Shaq's highlights and different stuff of Shaq. The dude was absolutely insane,” Green said.
Ask an NBA player or a fan to name his all-time starting five, Shaq will likely be in that line-up. O’Neal won a total of four titles. Three of those rings came by way of a three-peat — a feat that has never been replicated since. Green and the Warriors came close in the 2019 playoffs. But injuries coupled with Kawhi Leonard’s rise put their hopes away. It only goes to show how difficult it is to win three straight.
Analysis of O’Neal’s gameplay has taken a backseat over the last couple of years. Bigs armed with a shooting stroke and playmaking forwards like Green have been the talk of the town. Not to mention Stephen Curry who literally changed how the game is played.
This isn’t Shaq’s fault. This is just how things evolve. From time to time, fans get reminded of Shaq’s dominance whenever they see someone like Joel Embiid punish his defenders on the low block.
But Embiid didn’t make his defenders look like crash test dummies the way Shaq did. The Cameroonian has yet to win a slew of titles to forge his name as of the best in NBA history. Perhaps this is why fans and analysts only mention Shaq in passing. There’s no attempt to parse out why he was so good. Comparing Shaq to other players is a trivial pursuit simply because no one will dominate like him.