Since being drafted as the No. 1 overall pick in the 1992 NBA Draft, Shaquille O’Neal had shown a huge potential of becoming one of the greatest and most dominant players in league history. In fact, in his first season in the NBA, O’Neal didn’t show any sign that he was still an amateur. O’Neal won the 1993 Rookie of the Year award with the Orlando Magic after a monster performance, averaging 23.4 points, 13.9 rebounds, and 3.5 blocks on 56.2 percent shooting from the field.
Shaquille O’Neal continued dominating the league in the years following, where he ended up winning three NBA championships with the Los Angeles Lakers and one with the Miami Heat. Seven years since he played his last game in the NBA, many things have changed in the league. Some people believe that a traditional center like O’Neal would have a hard time succeeding, since all big men are required to have the ability to space the floor in the modern NBA.
In a recent appearance on The Official Lakers Podcast, as shared by Fadeaway World, Shaquille O’Neal discussed the difference between his era and today’s NBA. O’Neal strongly believes he can still dominate in the modern NBA and went as far as saying that he can average 50 points per game without free throws.
“If I played today, I’d average 50, without free throws…guys don’t play physical. They whine and they cry.”
— Lakers News (@lakers_news) September 23, 2018
Of course, the only way that Shaquille O’Neal can prove his claim is to come out of retirement and play again in the NBA. When LeBron James signed with the Los Angeles Lakers, O’Neal was one of the many people who urged NBA legend Kobe Bryant to come out of retirement, so it’s intriguing to know what Shaq’s stance would be about coming out of retirement. However, on the same podcast, O’Neal said that he will never come out of retirement, saying that he wants the memories of him in the league to remain the same.
“The memories that people have of me, that’s where I want my DVD to end,” O’Neal said, as transcribed by Lakers Nation. “The lob pass from Kobe, all that. The fights that we used to have, the elbows. Shaq averaging 28 in the regular season and then raise that in the playoffs to 40. It stops there.”
Shaquille O’Neal’s reason for not making an NBA comeback is acceptable. After his 19-year stint in the NBA, O’Neal no longer has anything to prove in the league. Unlike some Hall of Famers who decided to come out of retirement, O’Neal wants to be remembered for his great moments in the NBA.