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“I haven’t been stopped since age 5” — the most dominant moment of Shaquille O'Neal's career

Shaq shares the bold truth during the Los Angeles Lakers impressive 2001 championship run.
Los Angeles Lakers center Shaquille O'Neal

Shaquille O'Neal

It’s not an overstatement that Shaquille O’Neal is the most dominant force ever to grace the NBA hardcourts. His four championships include a three-peat — a feat that has never been repeated since. During his prime, not even the best defenders in history could stop Shaq. Opposing teams need at least two people to have a chance. O’Neal shared the bold truth about his dominance in one of his impressive runs.

Peak Shaq

O’Neal was at the top of his game when he was donning the legendary Los Angeles Lakers jersey. Against the Philadelphia 76ers in the 2001 NBA Finals, Larry Brown was throwing everything but the kitchen sink at Shaq but to no avail. After his 34-point, 14-rebound performance in Game 4, O’Neal bragged he has been dominating since preschool, per the Associated Press.

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We still haven’t put together a great game like we did in the first three series, but we’re doing enough to win. And that’s what it’s all about -- winning,” O’Neal said. “In a perfect world we’d be talking about winning the whole thing right now, but we let Game 1 slip away.

Shaq was talking about their Game 1 loss to the 76ers in the NBA Finals. It was their only loss that entire postseason. This little blemish in their record still haunts them to this day. Perhaps this mindset enabled the Shaq-Kobe-led Lakers to squish their foes like mush. Losing was never an option for them.

Ancient big

Shaq was the last center of his kind that we are lucky to have seen. Gone are the days when offensive playbooks were filled with post-up sketches and other ways to score in the paint. Nowadays centers who are as tall (but not as strong as Shaq) jack up 3-pointers with pristine perfect shooting form. It is an odd sight, but this is the way the NBA has evolved.

Philadelphia 76ers star Joel Embiid has been compared to Shaq, primarily because of his propensity for abusing his foes down low. But the comparisons stop when Embiid suddenly shoots 3-pointers, fade-aways, and does Euro steps. There’s nothing wrong with it. But, again, it is just the way the game has evolved.

But there is something gratifying about how Shaq dunked on the heads of Dikembe Mutombo, Vlade Divac, Scot Pollard, and Theo Ratliff, among others. He literally made them look like crash-test dummies the way he abused them in the post. It’s like watching your favorite superhero beat evil to a bloody pulp with ease at maximum strength.

It may take a while for us to see someone like Shaq again. Teams favor bigs with decent handles and a shooting stroke rather than the traditional one. There seems to be no place for centers that rely on brute strength alone. But Shaq fans need not worry. History likes to repeat itself. Sooner or later, the second coming of the Diesel will rise.

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