Shaquille O'Neal had a seemingly endless amount of nicknames during his legendary playing career, so he can afford to give one up.
The Basketball Hall of Famer has been extremely protective of his "Superman" moniker over the years, and was quick to remind everyone that Dwight Howard had no claim to the nickname. Believing himself to be the NBA's only true Superman, O'Neal is finally prepared to pass the torch on to a player he believes is the front-runner for Most Valuable Player this season in Milwaukee Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo.
"I've never given my name up before, but I'm giving it to him. He's the new Superman," Shaq said of Antetokounmpo during Thursday's Stephen A. Smith Show. "I didn't hit no 3-pointer either, but he's dominating and that's what I like. He's dominating in the paint. You taking it to the hole. You throwing it down. You ain't shooting no flip shots ...
"And you know what? I don't want to encourage big guys to shoot jumpers and 3-pointers. Stay your big ass on the inside and dominate like you been doing. So I denounce myself as Superman and I'm giving it to the 'Greek Freak.' You heard it here first."
O'Neal doubled down on his declaration later that evening on NBA TV.
Antetokounmpo currently leads the Association in field goals made in the restricted area by a large margin with 172, which he's converting at a 76.4 percent clip. No one since Shaq in 1997-98 has averaged more than 10 attempts, yet the 23-year-old is currently taking 11.3 shots in that zone for the 15-6 Bucks.
O'Neal won't be happy to learn that Antetokounmpo is taking a career-high 2.6 shots from behind the arc with a putrid 11.8 percent conversion rate, but his 27.3 points, 12.9 rebounds, six assists, 1.5 steals, and 1.3 blocks surely make up for that.