Retired center Shaquille O’Neal was dismissive of the idea that the center position has evolved and instead stated that current players look to avoid physical play.
Shaq on NBA centers: "The game is evolving. Us older big guys don’t look at it as evolving. We look at it as soft b/c guys don’t want to get down there & bang. Which is okay.
"New era new generation, I can’t tell them how to play. I can’t tell them what to do."
– Scoop B Radio pic.twitter.com/8WrvYsVyBM
— 👑 Brandon “Scoop B” Robinson (@ScoopB) September 18, 2021
During O’Neal’s Hall of Fame career, his sheer physical presence made him an intimidating player in the paint who could be impossible to stop.
The evolution that O’Neal speaks of has seen a great deal of focus attached to how proficient some centers have become with regard to 3-point shooting. In earlier decades, most centers took their shots either in the paint or simply close to the basket.
While O’Neal attempted to tamp down any potential controversy by attributing the shift to generational patterns, he also made a point to note that players in his era were tougher.
Such beliefs are relatively common among retired players and are usually ignored by those currently taking the court.
O’Neal’s thoughts don’t figure to resonate for any length of time, though it wouldn’t be surprising to see him bring up the topic again at a later date.