The NBA Hall-of-Famer is against the association resuming play during the pandemic.
As the NBA is working feverishly to at least finish the rest of the 2019-20 season, you can count Shaquille O’Neal as one of the NBA’s biggest names who think that is a bad idea. Speaking with the New York Post on Friday (May.8), the Inside The NBA analyst voiced his concerns about the league restarting and how it could put an asterisk on wins the title:
“We should scrap the season. Continue to care about the safety of the players and the people, let the government figure out how they’re going to get rid of this thing forever. I hate hearing this statement, oh it’s going to come back, it’s going to come back.”
Most of the time you could predict who is going to win a championship. Now, what if we come back and a team that wasn’t supposed to win wins? There’s going to be an asterisk behind that championship. I think, personally, we should say, ‘OK, let’s just continue to worry about the safety of the people and the players, and we’ll see you guys in training camp.'”
As part of its plan to return, the NBA also strongly considered the idea of playing games with no fans in attendance. While that will help keep a lot of people safe, O’Neal pointed out that there would still be a lot of people in the arena.
“If we try to finish the season with no fans, you still got to bring in a camera crew, you still got to bring in the trainers, you still got to bring in other people. What if one of those guys gets it? All it takes is one.”
He even said it the idea to play without fans would be a bad idea because there would be no energy to feed off from the screaming fans.
“I would absolutely play horrible with no fans. Oh my God. I would be the worst center in NBA history, because I need to feed off the energy of the crowd, I need to get my adrenaline boosted.
“You know how many games I won just by going into opponents’ arenas and fans look at me crazy? Every time I missed a free throw they laughed. I would go, ‘oh you think it’s funny? Watch this.’ I would definitely need that.”
O’Neal’s statements directly conflict LeBron James, who voiced his displeasure about people saying the season should be scrapped. The NBA has also allowed some practice facilities to reopen in states that have begun easing lockdown restrictions. We shall see how this will all play out.
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Photo: Bennett Raglin / Getty