Shaquille O'Neal is confident that if his 7-foot-1 frame, well north of 300 pounds, was tasked with competing in the modern NBA, not a soul could contain him.
The Basketball Hall of Famer would refuse to adapt to a style of play where big men are stepping further and further away from the rim, and would just exploit his size in the paint to score bucket after bucket.
"First of all, if I came up in this era, I wouldn't shoot threes. That's not what a big guy is supposed to do. If I played today, I'd average 50, without free throws," Shaq said during a recent appearance on the official Lakers podcast. "I'd average 50, because guys don't play physical. They whine and they cry; I'm going to punish everybody.
"All these guys talking about shooting jump shots, you're going to have to defend me. And you can't defend me with three or four fouls. I'm just going to punish you. I haven't really lost to a lot of guys that shot jumpers in my face, but I beat everybody by playing low."
O'Neal is perhaps best known for his power game, but his high basketball IQ paired with his strength made him one of the most unstoppable forces in the history of the sport. He'd gladly let his matchup take as many long-range shots as he wanted, because at the end of the day, the opposing player would have to get back on defense, and that's when Shaq would strike.
"A lot of people say, ‘Oh, well, it’s a different game.’ No. When people are doing things different, that’s when you’ve got to do something different," he said, according to Lakers Nation's Matthew Moreno. "OK, everybody is shooting jumpers. Fine, but I make my money on the inside.
"A lot of people don’t understand it takes legs and strength to shoot the jumpers. A lot of people will try to shoot jumpers for three quarters against me. In the fourth quarter, banging up against me all the time, it won’t work. And then I would always have that physicality. Because, as you know, I don’t give an [expletive] about the fine. So those guys come into the lane, I’ve got to touch them up. All day, every day. Gotta touch them up. Fine, suspension. I don’t really care about that. It’s a psychological thing. They know the next time they come down the lane, I’m going to touch ’em up."
O'Neal was a career 23.7 points per game scorer during his storied 19-year career, with 4.9 of those points (52.7 percentage) coming from the charity stripe. His scoring maxed out in 1999-00 with the Lakers when he put up 29.7 points en route to his only MVP trophy.