Former Los Angeles Lakers and Miami Heat center Shaquille O'Neal is considered the most dominant big man to ever set foot in the NBA. But the retired superstar insists he would have been an even greater force in today's league.
The 46-year-old began his professional career with the Orlando Magic in 1992, before heading to Los Angeles four years later, where he won three rings alongside Kobe Bryant in three consecutive NBA campaigns.
He was moved to Miami as part of a trade in 2004 and won a fourth championship, having paired up with another incredible shooting guard in Dwyane Wade, but became a bit of a journeyman thereafter, playing for the Suns, Cavaliers and Celtics before calling curtains in 2011.
“If I played today, I’d average 50, without free throws,” O’Neal declared, via Express. “I’d average 50, because guys don’t play physical. They whine and they cry; I’m going to punish everybody.”
"A lot of people say, ‘Oh, well, it’s a different game.’ No.
“When people are doing things different, that’s when you’ve got to do something different. OK, everybody is shooting jumpers. Fine, but I make my money on the inside.
“A lot of people don’t understand it takes legs and strength to shoot the jumpers. A lot of people will try to shoot jumpers for three quarters against me. In the fourth quarter, banging up against me all the time, it won’t work. And then I would always have that physicality.”
Shaq seems to be very much against big men relying on outside shooting to earn their keep and says today's centers would have a difficult time defending him.
“First of all, if I came up in this era, I wouldn’t shoot threes,” he added.
“That’s not what a big guy is supposed to do. All these guys talking about shooting jump shots, you’re going to have to defend me. And you can’t defend me with three or four fouls. I’m just going to punish you.
“I haven’t really lost to a lot of guys that shot jumpers in my face, but I beat everybody by playing low.
"So I would definitely average 40. Easily.”