In NBA history, only a handful of players have claimed to interfere in the discussion of the greatest player of all time. But becoming the GOAT presupposes a work ethic, which some have not been able to impose on themselves even though they had the required qualities. Follow our gaze…
Who can claim to be in the running to be the undisputed GOAT in basketball history? Michael Jordan and LeBron James, of course, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Bill Russell… and that’s about it. If some players remain at the door of this discussion due to injuries, a shortened career or simply too insufficient a record, one name had everything to integrate the table of kings: Shaquille O’Neal.
Arriving in the league as an absolute phenomenon in 1992, the then-playing Magic center was included in the list of the 50 greatest players of the half-century only 4 years later, a sign of his incredible impact. At the time of hanging up the sneakers, the Big Cactus had compiled 4 champion rings, countless other accolades… but a taste of unfinished remains for some.
Shaq not determined enough to become the GOAT, the eternal regret of his coach
Gary Vitti, legendary personal coach of the league, who has worked Kobe Bryant for a long time, recently mentioned the subject at the microphone of the program “Fair Game”:
My dream for Shaq was for him to become the GOAT. But him, it was not his dream, and that is the whole problem. When you want something for the person more than the person is worth…Shaq wanted to inspire young people to pursue their dreams, and he did. I really love it. He achieved a lot, but I think he could have done a lot more on the court.
This criticism of the lack of work ethic is not new to the Shaq. It is also partly because Bryant could not bear to see Superman so dilettante, especially in terms of his weight, that the relationship between the two men has crumbled over the years. Could O’Neal have racked up 6 or 7 rings and more MVP titles if he had bothered? Vitti thinks so… but he nevertheless understands the specificity incumbent on the big men:
I firmly believe that he could have been the GOAT if he had wanted to. There’s a part to it that he was so strong and so dominant, he didn’t see the need to work harder and hurt himself. You also have to take into account the position he was playing. It’s hard for adults, that’s a fact.
If you take a little one and put him in a gym, he’s going to be hooked. He will stay all day, he will say in his head that he is Kobe, taking shots with the count in his head. He will work on his skills, on everything. But a grown-up, especially at this time, what can he do? Stay under the basket and do the “Mikan” exercise. Left hand, right hand, left hand, right hand. It’s boring as can be.
The mythical Gary Vitti is still full of regrets when talking about Shaquille O’Neal, whom he intended to lead to the top of Mount Rushmore. In the end, Shaquille O’Neal had neither the work ethic nor the envy of those who entered this discussion. Of which act.