Shaquille O’Neal was never one of those guys who was willing to give in to the idea of anyone being better than him on the basketball court. What reason did he ever have? He was absolutely one of the most dominant forces in the NBA during his prime, winning four titles, three Finals MVPs and a regular season MVP.
At his peak, O’Neal couldn’t be stopped by any one man, which is why he’s often scoffed at the idea of any big man who has followed even being close to as good as he was.
Times are changing, though, and O’Neal loves what he’s seeing in Milwaukee Bucks MVP candidate Giannis Antetokounmpo, who he is admitting is better than he was at age 24. During an episode of O’Neal’s The Big Postcast, he explains why he’s giving The Greek Freak the crown.
“He’s better because he has more opportunity to showcase more. I was a post player, and the only thing I had to showcase was my domination. He’s running the floor, I did that early, but I stopped doing that because I stopped getting the ball when I ran the floor so I turned into a halfcourt, dominant player.
But yeah, he’s better, and that’s why I gave up my Superman title to him. He’s a humble kid and he works hard. […] This kid actually works and he’s earned it; he’s earned my respect and he deserves it. To answer all of the critic’s questions, you’re right, the kid is better than I was at 24.”
O’Neal was addressing comments he made earlier this week when he said that he was relinquishing the “Superman” nickname for Antetokounmpo.
“I’ve never given my name up before, but I’m giving it to him. He’s the new Superman,” O’Neal said, via ESPN.com. “You heard it here first. I didn’t hit no three-pointer either, but he’s dominating and that’s what I like.”
Antetokounmpo has become one of the most prolific players in the NBA, averaging 27, 12 and 6 on the season while leading the Bucks what will be the NBA’s best record for the 2018-19 NBA season. He’s in a tight race with Houston’s James Harden for the league’s MVP, and whether he wins the award, he has firmly established himself as one of the NBA’s five best players in the league right now.