Guys feared Michael Jordan. They were scared when going up against Kobe Bryant. But according to Shaquille O'Neal, they don't feel the same way about LeBron James.
"They don't fear him"
In the latest episode of The Big Podcast, O'Neal dived into the Lakers' disappointing season and what they need to do moving forward to get back into title contention. Despite great individual numbers, LeBron was also mentioned as a part of the problem; specifically, his lack of pride.
Injuries aside, the Lakers never looked like they cared. And that all starts with James.
The team's go-to tone-setter was never able to set the right tone, making the Lakers an easy target throughout the regular season. According to Shaq, that's something LeBron has struggled with his whole career. The result is an all-time great with no intimidation factor to match his performances on the court.
"LeBron James is my guy, but nobody was ever scared of LeBron,” Shaq said. “So, if you’re not scared of a guy, you just have much more confidence. That’s a dangerous guy to play with. They respect him, but they don’t fear him ’cause I can tell, I watched him playing against them, they not scared."
"They fear Giannis now. They fear Giannis cause they can see in his face when he coming down the damn lane full court. They can see like, 'Yo, this guy not playing.'"
Shaquille O'Neal, The Big Podcast
What does this do to the GOAT debate?
All of this is coming from a guy who was once LeBron's teammate. But despite the bond the two all-time greats have, O'Neal was honest about the Lakers' superstar and his presence on the basketball floor.
However, unlike many NBA fans, led by Skip Bayless, it doesn't seem Shaq himself makes too much of LeBron's lack of fear factor. At least he didn't months ago when he said James is one accomplishment away from becoming the greatest of all time.
“He’s got four rings and he becomes the highest scorer in the NBA history. He’s the best ever,” O’Neal said via LA Times. “Ain’t nothing you can say."
People who disagree with LeBron's potential GOAT status will always have something to say. And they'll be happy to know that one of their most-used arguments about James not matching the intimidation of MJ or Kobe is something even Shaquille O'Neal agrees with.
However, Diesel doesn't seem to think that's a big knock on LeBron as a player. Skip Bayless-led army is likely to disagree.