Shaquille O'Neal was one of the most dominant centers to play the game of basketball. But Kenny Smith believes one of his former teammates could match the power of Shaq.
That teammate was none other than Houston Rockets icon Hakeem "The Dream" Olajuwon. O'Neal, who was listed at 7-foot-1, 325 pounds, was an athletic marvel, with the power to bully his opponents inside the paint on a nightly basis. But while Shaq may have been a beast in the paint, Olajuwon was a terror on both sides of the floor.
The two Hall of Fame centers went toe-to-toe in the 1995 NBA Finals. Shaquille O'Neal was with the Orlando Magic and Olajuwon with the Houston Rockets. Shaq averaged 28.0 points, 12.5 rebounds, 6.3 assists and 2.5 blocks over four games, while Hakeem averaged 32.8 ppg, 11.5 rpg, 5.5 apg, 2.0 steals and 2.0 bpg.
On "The Draymond Green Show," Kenny Smith praised both O'Neal and Olajuwon.
"I never seen anyone not be outpowered by Shaq but him (Hakeem), and I don't know if it was because it's just footwork, his strength or just his tenacity. ... It was like teams were fearful not only of him as a defender, but they were a little bit scared of his physicality, you know, and how he would treat you if you showed any type of weakness," Smith said.
Kenny Smith comments on Shaquille O'Neal and Hakeem Olajuwon
Hakeem Olajuwon and Shaquille O' Neal are two of the most dominant big men in NBA history. Both imposed their will on the opposition on a nightly basis.
What was so remarkable about both was that they did it in different ways. Both had the strength to overpower opponents, but they didn't always rely on it.
Olajuwon, the 1993-94 MVP and two-time NBA Finals MVP, was one of the best centers in the game when it came to footwork and touch around the basket. He was also one of the most feared defenders among centers: a two-time Defensive Player of the Year, a nine-time All-Defensive team selection and a three-time block champion.
O'Neal could use his power to defeat anyone, but he also had sensational quickness. During his early days with the Orlando Magic, Shaq was a tremendous athlete who could be a fastbreak starter on occasions.
Both big men will be remembered as two of the most legendary centers to step on a court.
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