Shaquille O'Neal Says He Let Allen Iverson Score Because He Respected His Game

Blake SchusterCorrespondent IIApril 4, 2020

SPRINGFIELD, MA - SEPTEMBER 9:  Inductees, Shaquille O'Neal and Allen Iverson pose for a photo on stage after the 2016 Basketball Hall of Fame Enshrinement Ceremony on September 9, 2016 at Symphony Hall in Springfield, Massachusetts. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2016 NBAE (Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)
Jesse D. Garrabrant/Getty Images

If any of Shaquille O'Neal's NBA coaches felt he was randomly giving less than his best on defense against some of the league's top players, well, there's a reason for that. 

Apparently the legendary player would let his favorite opponents score on him at will. Speaking to Bleacher Report's Adam Lefkoe on The Lefkoe Show, Shaq explained that there were only a handful of pros in the league he respected enough that he'd enjoy watching them perform more than he enjoyed stopping them.

"There were guys that when we played them, I was such a fan I let them do what they wanted on me," O'Neal told Lefkoe. "White Chocolate (Jason Williams), I want him to go to work. Vince Carter, A.I. (Allen Iverson) and Tracy McGrady."

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O'Neal also described what the Lakers locker room was like after Iverson infamously stepped over Ty Lue during Game 1 of the 2001 NBA Finals, but it was hearing Shaq discuss the way he defended the iconic guard—or didn't defend—that bewildered Lefkoe and his fellow guests, Dwyane Wade and Candace Parker.

"Every time we played A.I., I liked him crossing over and he was tough," O'Neal said. "I could've blocked his shot multiple times, I just didn't want to."

O'Neal even called on Wade, whom he teamed up with in Miami to win the 2006 Finals, to back up his statements. 

True or not, O'Neal wouldn't be the first All-Star who Iverson made look inadequate. The Hall of Fame guard had one of the nastiest crossovers in NBA history and deployed it with continued success whenever he wanted to.

The Philadelphia 76ers legend never ended up winning a title, but he's got the respect of someone who owns four rings. 

"Iverson had the heart of a lion," O'Neal said. "He did it his way. I was glad to go into the Hall of Fame with him." 

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