Retired Los Angeles Lakers center Shaquille O’Neal is dismissing the idea that he’s being hypocritical when he offers blunt criticisms of current NBA players.
O’Neal offered his thoughts on “The Big Podcast with Shaq” by saying that his words should be considered as motivation, citing three superstars that he played with.
“Listen, for all you sensitive dummies out there, when I speak, as I try a thousand percent not to be hypocritical, there’s some messaging in my points,” said O’Neal.
“I’ve helped mentor. I can help you get to that next level. You forgot I played with Penny [Hardaway]? You forgot I play with Kobe [Bryant]? You forgot I played with D-Wade (Dwyane Wade)? Ask him about me.”
O’Neal’s words have recently garnered more attention, largely due to his past criticisms directed at Brooklyn Nets guard Ben Simmons, who seemingly took offense to some of O’Neal comments.
Simmons recently said that O’Neal never reached out to him to check on how he was doing amid all of the things he was going through last season despite claiming that they were “brothers” since they both played college basketball at Louisiana State University.
O’Neal responded to that criticism and is now following that up by showing that his past efforts to help younger players were beneficial.
— James Burnes (@JamesBurnes8) September 25, 2022
“Listen, if you’re greater, you can’t be a hater,” O’Neal said. “Let’s get that straight right now. If you’re greater, you can’t be no hater. First of all, like I said, I’m just talking about what I see as a player, and I’m talking about what you gotta do to get to that next level. If you don’t like what I say, that ain’t my problem. First of all, it’s never a personal attack on you. I just say what I saw. I saw in his eyes, he was scared and guess what? Everybody goes through struggles. We all do. Everybody goes through struggles. We all do. But this is the game we play. This is the life we live. You’re going to take criticism. They pay us a lot of money, somehow you have to deal with it.”
When O’Neal played for his first NBA team, the Orlando Magic, he and Hardaway were teammates. During their time together, the Magic reached the 1995 NBA Finals, though they ended up being swept in four games by the Houston Rockets.
After the 1995-96 NBA season, O’Neal signed with the Lakers as a free agent and joined Bryant, who was entering his rookie season. The duo went on to be the central components of three straight league championships from 2000 to 2002.
O’Neal and Bryant had a falling out in their relationship, which led to O’Neal being dealt to the Miami Heat in 2004. During O’Neal’s second season with the team, the Heat bounced back from a 2-0 deficit in the 2006 NBA Finals to win their first league title.
Wade was named Finals MVP for that performance and went on to have an outstanding career.
Whether a generational gap exists with regard to O’Neal’s remarks toward Simmons is hard to say. However, it clear that the stinging criticism delivered didn’t go down well with the Nets guard.
Simmons appears to be ready to return this season after missing all of last year due to mental health issues and injuries. O’Neal is likely to praise him if he does succeed and lower the boom if he appears to be a detriment to the Nets’ success.