Shaquille O'Neal is one of those old-school players that is always speaking his mind even if it disturbs or even offends other people in some way. In the last few months, Shaq made the headlines when he publicly criticized some of the younger players like Rudy Gobert, Donovan Mitchell, and James Harden, which was negatively perceived among a certain percentage of NBA fans calling Shaq a bitter old man.
Shaq later said he would no longer criticize as much as he did, but he didn't back down in a recent interview for the Dan Patrick Show. Something that people disliked about Shaq's approach is that it lacks constructive criticism. In Shaq's opinion, that is exactly what he is giving to the players to motivate them to take their game to the next level.
He remembered his early days in the league when he was the most dominant player but couldn't win a championship, and it was Kareem that was his constant critic. Shaq thinks the younger generation of players is soft and unwilling to take their games to the next level.
"I'm just doing what was done to me. I can remember when I was averaging 30, 35 in L.A., but we were always getting swept. And the great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar said, 'Hey you guys haven't won a championship yet.' Did I whine? Did I cry? Did I complain on social media? Nope, I didn't say anything, because Kareem Abdul-Jabbar had a chief-14 classification to say that. What am I gonna do? Have a dispute with the greatest NBA player ever? So when he said that, when he gave me constructive criticism, I took it, and I listened, and I brought my game to another level. So these guys now, they're pudding pops."
Shaquille O'Neal, via Dan Patrick Show
It seems Shaq is not planning to stop anytime soon, and calling today's players' pudding pops is just the continuation of his criticism. Whether you like it or not from a fan perspective, it's hard to argue with someone who had such a historic career as Shaq did, and some of the things he said make sense. Shaq is very unapologetic and direct, which sometimes is not a good thing in an era when every statement can reach a lot of people that don't agree with it.