When Shaquille O'Neal picked Hakeem Olajuwon as his first pick in his 1990s All-Decade starting five: "He was the only guy that I couldn’t intimidate"

Shaquille O
Shaquille O'Neal (left) vs Hakeem Olajuwon

During one of the episodes of "NBA's Open Court", Shaquille O'Neal drafted his personal starting five from the 1990s.

O'Neal's first pick was Houston Rockets legend, Hakeem Olajuwon. Shaq explained that Olajuwon was a center who he couldn't figure out when he first started playing in the NBA.

As a sign of respect, "Big Diesel" had to make Olajuwon his first pick from the 90s, explaining:

"Imma go at the five spot, imma go with Hakeem Olajuwon. Because for me, I know I was coming, and I was emerging slash already emerged, he was the only guy I couldn't figure out. I couldn't figure him out, and he was the only guy that I couldn't intimidate."

Looking back at Shaquille O'Neal versus Hakeem Olajuwon matchups

Hakeem Olajuwon (left) vs Shaquille O'Neal
Hakeem Olajuwon (left) vs Shaquille O'Neal

Hakeem Olajuwon and Shaquille O'Neal faced each other 28 times in the NBA. Twenty of those matchups were in the regular season, while eight were in the playoffs. Overall, "Big Diesel" was the superior center against "The Dream". Let's break it down:

During their regular season matchups, O'Neal went 14-6 against Olajuwon. Shaq had better stat averages compared to Olajuwon too. O'Neal averaged 22.1 points, 12.4 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 0.9 steals and 1.8 blocks in 20 games against Olajuwon. Meanwhile, "The Dream" averaged 18.4 points, 9.1 rebounds, 2.9 assists, 1.4 steals and 2.4 blocks.

While O'Neal technically had more wins over Olajuwon, the Houston Rockets legend won where it mattered most. Olajuwon went 5-3 in the playoffs against Shaq. Four of those wins came from the 1995 NBA Finals when the Rockets swept the Orlando Magic. To be fair, "Big Diesel" was still an emerging superstar at that point , while "The Dream" was on top of his game.

Imagine if the three-peat LA Lakers version of O'Neal took on Olajuwon in the 1995 NBA Finals. The series could've gone either way. Eventually, Shaq was the better big man between the two.

He had better stats in the regular season and also the better stats in the playoffs, averaging 28.8 points, 11.4 rebounds, 5.1 assists and 3.3 blocks. Meanwhile, Olajuwon averaged 23.0 points, 9.4 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 1.6 steals and 1.4 blocks against O'Neal in the postseason.

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Edited by Bhargav
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