Late last month, Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green made some headlines while discussing how his team would have fared against the Lakers led by Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant, claiming that he and teammate Stephen Curry would have “f---in destroyed” Shaq in the pick and roll.
Now, granted, Green also conceded that O’Neal would have “murdered” him on the block while admitting that the two teams played completely different games, but still, it was the first part of his statement that mostly drew headlines.
Shaq himself discussed Green’s comments on his own show, “The Big Podcast With Shaq,” and while he said he respects Green, he also said that the Warriors would have been a sixth or seventh seed in his era. And if that wasn’t enough of a retort, he wanted to make sure that Green knew that he agreed that their one-on-one matchup would have been no contest (as transcribed by Essentially Sports):
Reflecting on Green’s comments on his mighty blocks, he said, “Draymond what you got 3 rings? I’ll let that go. But again, it’s his opinion. I try not to get personal with people’s opinions. But however, Mr. Draymond, like you said, I would’ve torn your a** up on that block.”
He’s not wrong, but I get it. There is no basketball being played right now, so everyone has to talk about something. Still, I think sometimes when we’ve had these philosophical discussions about how those Lakers would have matched up with the peak Warriors in the past, we are occasionally guilty of looking at Shaq through the lens of a modern game that has de-emphasized the impact of big men.
That would not have happened to Shaquille F---ing O’Neal though, who was not just a physical behemoth, but a skilled and coordinated force of nature. Maybe he would have struggled to defend the pick-and-roll a little bit, but you know what would have been happening every time on the other end? Silver Screen and Roll alumni and current ESPN social media guru, Grant Goldberg, gave us a sneak preview:
"Draymond could guard Shaq in a Warriors vs. Lakers matchup."— Grant Goldberg (@GrantGoldberg) April 29, 2020
That would have been almost every play if the Warriors tried to go small. They just couldn’t have stopped it, and it’s not like any of their bigs over the years would have fared much better against Shaq. I think the KD/Steph Warriors could have made it a competitive series, but in the end, I’m not sure they would have had an answer for the tsunami of muscle they would have had to deal with in the paint. Seriously, just watch this Shaq highlight video if you want to remember:
In his prime, there was just no stopping that dude. It’s literally the biggest part of what made those threepeat Lakers so special, and we can’t let history forget just because the game has changed and there hasn’t been another Shaq since. That’s because Shaq was a freak of nature and human video game cheat code, not because he couldn’t have still been incredible today were he taken from his prime, put in a time machine and brought to this current era.
As much as the 3-point revolution has altered the game, that would have just given Shaq more space to play with, and possibly made him more unstoppable, not less. Maybe it would have made his defense more damaging, but I think it’s basically impossible to argue he wouldn’t have just made teams pay even more on the other end. Based on his comments, it would seem he agrees.
How do you think Shaq would fare against Draymond’s iteration of the Warriors? Let us know in the comments below, and for more Lakers talk, subscribe to the Silver Screen and Roll podcast feed on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher or Google Podcasts. You can follow Harrison on Twitter at @hmfaigen.