Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Daily Rant: Will We Ever See (Physical) Dominance Again?

Last night while I was watching the Magic vs. Hawks game, Dwight Howard put on another show with 33 points and 19 rebounds and threw down some thunderous dunks. Say what you want about Howard's abilities or how much/little improvement he's shown in his offensive game, I think there's one thing we can all agree on. He's the most dominant center the NBA has seen since Shaquille O'Neal's glory days.

With O'Neal on the mend in Boston, I started to wonder if we've seen the last of Shaq. While his roles as Kazaam and Neon Boudreaux (Kazaam and Blue Chips) weren't dominant, his play in the paint for Orlando, Los Angeles, and Miami was. He still showed flashes in Phoenix and Cleveland, and for a time this year, Boston.

My question is, will we ever see someone as physically dominant again? Dwight Howard stands 6'11" and 265lbs. Shaq stood 7'1" 302lbs when he entered the league in 1992 and started ripping down backboards. O'Neal averaged at least 23.4 ppg his first 11 seasons in the NBA, including three times having an average over 29 ppg, and no fewer than 10.7 rebounds per game in those 11 seasons. Has career totals are very impressive as well, averaging 23.7ppg, 10.9rpg, and 2.3bpg, for totals of 28,596 points, 13,099 rebounds, and 2,732 blocks. Respectively those totals are good for 5th, 12th, and 7th all-time.

No one could guard him, and Hakeem Olajuwon stands as the only center who ever really took it to Shaq. Olajuwon hit jumper, fadeaway, and hook after jumper, fadeaway, and hook in the 1995 NBA Finals. That was the zenith of Olajuwon's career while O'Neal's was just starting to peak.

O'Neal will probably be the only 7'1" man capable of driving the entire length of the floor. Don't believe me, watch this. He was able to post-up against anyone. He had a powerful drop step move; he could shoot a hook over you; execute an up and under; or just simply go through you on his way to the rim. He could power 340lbs into the air and thunder home an alley-oop that shook not only the rim, but the entire arena. He took out nearly the entire Rockets team in this brawl, and probably would've ended Brad Miller's life had he connected on this haymaker. He threw around Andrew Bynum, and even wrestled the Big Show. Plain and simple, Shaq was a beast. If he could've learned to shoot foul shots, he'd probably have a shot at overtaking Kareem Adbdul-Jabbar or Karl Malone for 1st or 2nd all-time in points scored.

Yeah, his rap career flopped (Fu Shnickens), and his clothing line, T.W.I.S.M. (The World Is Mine - stolen from Scarface) failed. But, Shaq will remain the most physically imposing athlete of all-time, and I don't think there's a real comparison. Bo Jackson was the most physical and athletic running back I've everseen, and the Giants' Brandon Jacobs stands at 6'4" 264lbs. Frank Thomas was the biggest baseball player I've ever seen standing 6'5" 270lbs, but neither of them were as dominant as O'Neal for as long a stretch of time. Dwight Howard might be close, but I'll always remember Shaq. If this is the last we've seen of him on the hardwood, so be it. He got his rings, he left a legacy, and there's probably evidence of a bloodtrail in the paint on NBA floors around the league. Shaq is a living legend. Seriously, who else could do this? And no, I'm not talking about Mark Madsen dancing. Shaq, if this is the last of you, you'll be missed.

***An update to the Shaq blog, as my roommate gave me this little gem yesterday. Shaq gives the DDT to Sir Charles Barkley. Enjoy!***


  1. KD, first of all, great post. I loved reading this, but I must point out a few things I disagree with. First of all, I believe Shaq's acting career is completely and inexplicably underrated. I mean, Kazaam was one of the most influential films on my young life, and I'm pretty sure Blue Chips was the first Rated R movie I was ever allowed to see. Second, have you listened to the Shaq Diesel album? Pure musical creation.

    In all seriousness though, I would have to say that Dwight Howard is just slightly less physically imposing than Shaq was. But Dwight may end up being more dominant, because he is unlike noone else in the game today. His athletic ability continues to astound me, and the center position has been eradicated in today's NBA with the evolution of the run and gun offense and the breakout of the importance of the perimeter game. I really do think Howard could average a 30-20 season if he wanted to, something I'm pretty sure no one has ever done before. I really wish we could have 2000 Shaq and about 2013 Dwight Howard face off. Because that would be a slugfest.

  2. Ps... Those videos? Awesome. I love the Bulls fight, especially the fact that the first two trying to break it up are Charles Oakley and Ron Artest. Ironic? You better believe it.

  3. Shaq with the Lakers was ridiculous, but I'd forgotten he could drive the length of the floor when he wanted to.

    I love Dwight Howard, but Shaq will always be the best big man to me. Howard isn't as physical, and sometimes I'd even go as far to say he's soft when handling the ball on post-entry passes. If he can continue to hit free-throws at his pace he's been on since the All-Star Break, I think that will up his ppg average. If he can really hone that Tim Duncan bankshot, I think 30 ppg from him isn't out of the question.

    I'd be really interested to see what he could do with someone like Chris Paul feeding him the rock. Nothing against Jameer Nelson's scoring abilities, but it's said when the best passer on your team is J.J. Redick.

  4. I'll have to give the Shaq Diesel album a listen. So far, for my money, Ron Artest is the best athlete/quasi-rapper.

  5. After some careful consideration about Shaq's acting career, I'll give him a pass for Kazaam. Rethinking the movie Blue Chips, which saw a motley crew of Nick Nolte, Shaq, Penny Hardaway, and a cameo from Bobby Knight...all I have to say is how did this not win an Oscar?