Shaquille O'Neal's work ethic has always been dubbed as the biggest flaw of his career. Many people, most notably Kobe Bryant, believed that the 4-time champion would've even been a greater player if he just worked on his game more and dedicated his life to basketball.
As it has been well-documented throughout time, O'Neal's focus was not just on basketball but also on the entertainment and business industries while competing for championships and solidifying his legacy in the NBA.
Shaq thinks he would've been the same player
But despite all the backlash he's received for his work ethic, O'Neal does not waste his time today thinking about the player he could've been. The Diesel even argues that it was remarkable he still turned out to be the player he became even if he had to distribute his time between his basketball career, family, and business ventures.
"I would've been Shaq. I met Kobe, Kobe was a beast. Nobody worked harder than him. But I think you can find success in many ways. You know, for me, I had to 8 hours of work, 8 hours of business, 8 hours of family. See, Kobe was just getting married, getting to his family. I'm already four kids in. So after I put my 2 or 3 hours of work, I have to be daddy. Now, I have to be a husband. I have to take care of business. And mentally, I'm so strong, I don't need to work out for these bums anyway," O'Neal revealed in an appearance on Valuetainment.
O'Neal also added that he was already confident with his game and knew that with or without more practice, he was the most dominant player on the floor. True enough, his talent alone was on a different level compared to his peers, and it was what solidified him as an NBA legend.
O'Neal's work ethic cost him more championships with Kobe
For as great and dominant as O'Neal was, especially during his prime, he lost his chance to compete for more championships because of his work ethic. His commitment to the game was what threw Bryant off and eventually became one of the biggest reasons why their feud caused them to go their separate ways after winning three titles together.
Dr. Jerry Buss and the Lakers brass chose Bryant over O'Neal when push came to shove in 2004 not because the 5-time champion was younger but because his commitment to being great was unmatched. While Shaq's tenure with the Purple and Gold was more than successful, it's fair to wonder what else the duo could've achieved if O'Neal had been retained.
Nevertheless, O'Neal still won a ring without Bryant and the Lakers in 2006 with the Miami Heat. His work ethic may have proved to be a weakness, but despite that, he is still considered one of the greatest players to ever step on the hardwood.