Shaquille O’Neal was a force of nature when he was still playing. There were little defenders could do with his size, heft, and pure power in the paint. Also, he wasn’t afraid to let everyone know what was on his mind, but some players, such as Michael Jordan, were untouchables when it came to trash-talking.
“You gotta stay away from Mike”
The Big Diesel wasn’t afraid of anyone: he knew he could dominate double and even triple teams. Shaq racked up many points without the help of 3-point shots, consistent jumpers, and free throws. He knew he was big and played in the same manner.
The former Lakers big man was often a victim of hard fouls because that was all defenders could do to limit him, and it often led to word wars and physical tussle. Spoiler: it didn’t end up well for the other players.
When asked during an interview if there was a player he didn’t want to trash-talk with because it triggered the other player to become better, Shaq had only one thing in mind: Stay away from a certain man from Chicago.
“Michael Jordan. You don’t want to mess with God. You gotta stay away from Mike. Leave that man alone.”
Shaq vs MJ
Shaq and Michael Jordan respected each other a lot. Whenever the two met, they brought their A-games and the best from each other. When O’Neal revealed he wouldn’t want to talk smack to MJ, it came from a place of informed decision.
Michael Jordan has a 12-9 advantage over Shaquille O’Neal in their career head-to-head, including 6-4 in the postseason. Shaq witnessed MJ torched his team with 64 points, so he probably learned his lesson not to talk trash the 6-time NBA champion, because Mike thrived in those situations. He even used insults to get to the next level.
The last time Jordan failed to make progress in the playoffs as a member of the Bulls was against the Orlando Magic led by Shaq in the 1995 Eastern Conference Semifinals. At that time, MJ was fresh from playing baseball, but O’Neal nevertheless counted that win in the playoffs as one of the highlights of his career.