Shaquille O'Neal Says He 'Only Played 30 Percent of My Real Game'

Andrew Gould@AndrewGould4Featured ColumnistSeptember 6, 2016

HOUSTON, TEXAS - APRIL 04:  Former NBA player and commentator Shaquille O'Neal looks on prior to the 2016 NCAA Men's Final Four National Championship game between the Villanova Wildcats and the North Carolina Tar Heels at NRG Stadium on April 4, 2016 in H
Scott Halleran/Getty Images

Shaquille O'Neal retired as one of the most dominant big men in NBA history. Yet he believes he could have reached even loftier heights.

In an interview with Shams Charania of The Vertical, the legendary center spoke about not utilizing his full skill set while imposing his will in the paint:

I only played 30 percent of my real game. I had a great career, but I didn't get a chance to showcase what I can really do. That's because the double- and triple-teams were coming so quick, I had to dominate, dominate, dominate inside. I had the ability to step out, go around defenders, dribble by people, but I never got to show that.

I had to focus on being the most powerful, dominant player to ever play the game.

His style is less common in a quicker, more athletic league where most big men are expected to run and stretch the court. O'Neal seems to believe he could have embraced such a role if needed.

The Big Aristotle also lamented all the time spent on the shelf during his decorated 19-year career.

You know, my only regret is that I missed almost 200 games due to injury while I was averaging 25 points a game. That's another 5,000 points that I left on the table. It would have put me No. 2 in scoring and further up in stats. I had a lot of freak injuries – had knee surgeries, toe injuries and my hand broken twice from hard fouls. You miss near 200 games, averaging 25 points, that's 5,000 points right there to add. That hurts me.

Recently passed by Dirk Nowitzki, O'Neal ranks seventh on the all-time scoring leaderboard. Aside from Michael Jordan and Wilt Chamberlain, the others above him logged at least 100 more games.

Still, it's unreasonable to expect a 7-footer, or any athlete for that matter, to play in three decades without any injury setbacks. The missed time also preserved him enough to play on four championship winners.

It's natural for O'Neal to look back and wonder if he could have accomplished more, but he's still a Hall of Famer and an all-time great.

[Shams Carania]


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