Shaq’s all-time ranking, as a dominant player

In his weekly chat, David Thorpe [ESPN NBA Insider/Analyst] provides his succinct assessment of Shaquille O’Neal’s legacy, as an NBA player, when all is said and done:

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Christopher, Germany: Hi David, love your chats. After they ended their carreers, who ranks higher on the all-time list: Shaq or Kobe?

SportsNation David Thorpe: Shaq.

Nate (New Haven): David, no way shaq ends up higher. Kobe’s got 3 rings, 5 finals appearences, same number of all nba teams and 8 more defensive team appearences. What planet are you living on?

SportsNation David Thorpe: Shaq is top 3 all time in terms of pure dominance. His stats are unreal. Here on earth, we consider such things.

Christopher, Germany: who are the other two all-time-best in pure dominance?

SportsNation David Thorpe: I’d suggest Wilt and Kareem, in totally different ways.

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Well … this corner of the blogosphere does NOT concur with Mr. Thorpe’s opinion … in regard to the ‘Big Aristotle’, as a once dominant NBA player.

Speaking strictly as a Center … Shaq doesn’t place in the Top 5 all-time … amongst those I would choose to anchor the middle for a Dream Team.

1. Bill Russell [11 NBA titles in 13 years … nuff, said]
2. Kareem Abdul Jabbar [the greatest offensive force in hoops’ history]
3. Hakeem Olajuwon [the most skilful Post Player of all-time]
4. Wilt Chamberlain [the most physically dominant player in any era]
5. Tim Duncan [the Big Fundamental … nuff, said]

When considering other players, as well, who’ve played other positions … at least, the following individuals would also rank well above ‘the Diesel’, in terms of their all-time dominance … 

1. Michael Jordan
2. Oscar Robertson
3. Magic Johnson
4. Larry Bird
5. Kobe Bryant

at the height of their physical prowess.

There’s no doubt whatsoever that Shaquille O’Neal is the single Most Powerful Force [of Nature] in the history of the game … i.e. combining Size, Strength, Speed, Agility, Quickness, Explosivity and Intelligence.

This FACT is a given.

BUT[T] … and, it’s a rather LARGE One, at this point … there is simply NO WAY, SHAPE or FORM, he should legitimately be listed amongst the MOST EFFECTIVE [i.e. ‘the Greatest’, or ‘the Best’, or ‘the Most Dominant’] players of all-time.

Whether your are ranking by (i) most championships won, (ii) most all-star appearances, (iii) most prolific individual statistics, or (iv) most combined areas of standard productivity/efficiency measures … including overall skill level and/or competitive will, etc., … neither Shaq’s actual performance nor his crunched numbers [associated with his overall body of work] stack up well, in comparison with the greatest players in the history of the game.

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11 Responses to “Shaq’s all-time ranking, as a dominant player”

  1. Travis Outlaw Says:

    Shaq is better than Patrick Ewing, Hakeem Olajuwon, David Robinson, Charles Barkley, Tim Duncan.

  2. khandor Says:

    ‘The Dream’ … at his very best … absolutely DESTROYS Shaquille O’Neal, at the apex of his game.

    Tim Duncan, on the other hand, at his very best, is a much closer call over Shaq-daddy.

  3. Travis Outlaw Says:

    Shaq was young when he was destroyed by Olajuwon. Shaq is better than Olajuwon because hes won more championships.

    Shaq is better than Duncan. Because his team has beat Duncan’s in playoffs more often.

  4. khandor Says:

    In a head-to-head match-up, at their very best … it simply isn’t close between ‘The Dream’ & ‘Shaq-fu’.

    Give Hakeem a teammate like Kobe Bryant and it’s an easy guarantee that he walks away with more NBA championships than ‘the Diesel’.

    In fact … I’ll even go so far as to suggest … that if you flip flop Dream and Shaq between Houston & the Lakers, and then Houston & the Heat … Shaq might have finished his NBA career without a single NBA title to his credit while Hakeem would have been in hot pursuit of MJ.

    In the History of the Game there has never ever been two simple things of beauty better than Kareem’s ‘Sky Hook’ and ‘the Dream’s Shake’.

    Repeatable, unstoppable and deadly.

    PS. When you add in Hakeem’s rebounding, shot-blocking and overall defense … it becomes a veritable landslide. 🙂

    PPS. At his Super-human, Pure Domination best … Shaq was never ever as good as Hakeem was in the ’95 playoffs.

  5. K-man Says:

    Yeah, I agree with Khandor on the Hakeem vs. Shaq thing. Olajuwon had an all-around game with a skill-set and post-moves that ANYONE would kill for. He had a pretty, yet deadly, game that didn’t need to rely on strength and explosiveness.

    I do, however, politely disagree with saying that Kobe Bryant is more dominant than Shaquille O’Neal. Kobe’s definitely an all-time skills guy but in terms of imposing your will on a game, I don’t think Kobe can touch Shaq with that.

  6. khandor Says:

    Dave,

    re: Kobe vs Shaq

    By the time he’s finished his Tour of Duty in the the NBA … there will be few players in the history of the game who compare favourably to Kobe Bean Bryant … and, I am in no way a ‘Black-Mamba-Lover’.

    Fact is … it took Michael Jordan an equally long period of time to earn my R.E.S.P.E.C.T., as an authentic ‘Artist of Hoop’ … but he finally did.

    After Mr. Russell … MJ is, simply put … As Good As It Gets, in the History of the NBA.

    And, the legitimate comparisons between MJ & KBB are just beginning, in earnest, i.e. Michael Jordan and Tex Winter discuss the MJ-Kobe comparisons.

    Once this current Lakers’ team … with Kobe, Bynum, Gasol, Odom, Fisher, Ariza, Vujacic, Radmanovic, Farmar, Walton, Mihm, Powell, Yue, etc. … adds a couple more Larry O’Brien Trophies to their organization’s display cabinet …

    it won’t even be close, IMO, as to which one of Bryant or Shaq will eventually finish up at the higher spot on the NBA’s All-time Greats Totem Pole.

    The kid started out when he was just 17 years of age … and, if injuries & health permit, will have played into his 40’s, a period of 23 or more years … at an incredibly high level … while racking up a swack of League titles, individual awards and landmark moments, PLUS an Olympic Games’ Gold Medal.

    In addition … if you listen to his interview yesterday with Jim Rome, on this blog, you can see for yourself … that this is now a 30 year old MAN who is just beginning to reach his optimal level of ’emotional maturity’, as an elite ‘Artist of Hoop’ … similar to what MJ experienced working under the brilliant tutelage of the ZenMaster.

    There are several reasons I am picking the LA Lakers to win 70+ games this season AND the NBA championship … one of them is definitely the growth of Kobe Bryant.

    Will he end up higher ranked than Shaq all-time?

    Yes, I think he will … when all is said and done.

    But others, like yourself, are certainly free to disagree.

  7. K-man Says:

    Haha, been arguing too many times with Dave, eh K-diddy?

    Since you set the parameters of “dominance at the height of their physical prowess,” I don’t think Kobe’s potential longevity in possibly playing 23 seasons of ball (a la Kareem) should be considered. It is certainly valid when examining his productivity but dominance at the height of his physical prowess? I don’t think so.

    I guess dominance is a subjective word so maybe we should agree on what the term “basketball dominance” should be?

    If Kobe is at his peak physical condition now at 29, in what ways do you think Kobe is more dominant than Shaq in his prime?

  8. Brandon Hoffman Says:

    I think you’re kind of stretching your list a little thin by including Duncan as a center. He’s a power forward and will go down in history as a power forward. Can you name another center besides Duncan that you would rank higher than Shaq?

  9. Travis Outlaw Says:

    If Kobe is at his peak physical condition now at 29, in what ways do you think Kobe is more dominant than Shaq in his prime?
    Kobe’s 30 now.

    Once this current Lakers’ team … with Kobe, Bynum, Gasol, Odom, Fisher, Ariza, Vujacic, Radmanovic, Farmar, Walton, Mihm, Powell, Yue, etc. … adds a couple more Larry O’Brien Trophies to their organization’s display cabinet …
    If they can even win one first.

    There are several reasons I am picking the LA Lakers to win 70+ games this season AND the NBA championship … And 70 games? What are this seasons Lakers going to be better than MJ Bulls?

    If your comparing Shaq and Kobe in their primes. Shaq in his prime was more dominant than Kobe in every way. Shaq is the most DOMINANT player in the history of the game. Only one other player is more dominant than Shaq and thats Wilt Chamberlain. And if Shaq was in his prime when facing against the Dream he would have dominated him too.

  10. khandor Says:

    K-man,

    In what way is Kobe more dominant than Shaq, in his prime, you ask?

    Click on the link above that says, “landmark moments”.

    That’s Exhibit A, right there. 🙂

    =================

    It’s not the 23+ years that should be considered; it’s the incredibly high level FOR the 23+ years that will eventually see Kobe’s name toward the very top of that specific Totem Pole.

    Do you see KBB dropping hoops and deciding to pursue another sport, just for kicks … if the Lakers should happen to win the next 3 NBA titles in a row?

    LOL

    =================

    As Jordan said himself in another one of the links I provided up above … Kobe has watched the masters, closely, intent on taking his performance to another level.

    ===============================

    Brandon,

    You are certainly free to consider Timmy D. a Power Forward.

    For me … and the way that I view the game … there is no doubt whatsoever that the Big Fundamental can be viewed as anything other than a CENTER, in the NBA.

    TD plays the Low Block position for the San Antonio Spurs. He checks the biggest Low Block scoring threat on the opposition, night-in and night-out, for the Spurs.

    He is the one player who patrols the defensive lane for their teams blocking shots, providing interior help and REBOUNDING every single game.

    He is the emotional CENTER-piece of that team.

    He is the very definition of what the Center position is supposed to be about, in the NBA, in the mold of The Great Bill Russell [6-9, 220], KAB, Wilt ‘the Stilt’, Bill Walton, Moses Malone. ‘The Dream’ and, yes, ‘The Big Aristotle’.

    It matters not, to me, if others think of him as an all-time great PF … cause, in my book, TD deserves his place amongst the greatest CENTERS in basketball history.

    ===============================

    Travis,

    Without question, Shaq is the MOST POWERFUL basketball player of all-time … but it’s a gross miscalculation to confuse Power with PURE DOMINATION.

    At their absolute best … each of the players I listed above were capable of dominating an NBA game/series/season in a way that Shaq … given his unique ‘skill level’ … simply could not. 🙂

  11. khandor Says:

    Travis,

    THE REASON Kobe Bryant is deciding NOT to have surgery on his injured pinky finger this month … is precisely because he can sense, ‘Spidey’ style, just how good this year’s team is going to be and just how special this season is going to be in the History of the Game … for Phil Jackson, Dr. Buss, and the whole Lakers organization.

    The Celtics got theirs last season … and it was a thing of beauty to behold … Ubuntu!

    Now it’s the Lakers’ turn this year … with a chance, quite possibly, if they can stay healthy … to put up a number beside their name that will go down in Legend, right beside the All-Time Great Chicago Bulls team of the ZenMaster, MJ, Pip, & The Worm.

    ===============================

    In my book … any Tom, Dick and Harry, per se, can explain away after-the-fact, based on statistics and the like, the why’s and how’s behind a certain occurrence, phenominal or otherwise … but only very few have the actual wherewithal to tell you IN ADVANCE when something specific is going to happen in the future.

    Circle the current year on your calendar … 2008-2009 … because the Lakers are about to have a season for the ages … at a time, when the depth of talented, first-rate championship calibre NBA teams, has never ever been better.

    That’s how good I believe this current collection of LA Lakers is going to be this season … if they can avoid any serious injuries.

    As always … Time will tell, if I’m right or wrong. 🙂

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