Shaq is back, and he’s more than ready to show the world what he’s got. But how does one go about getting their opponent killed?
The guarding shaq is a skill that takes time to develop. Players need to learn how to guard certain players and the best way to do so.
Shaquille O’Neal used to have nightmares about former Indiana Pacers big man Rik Smits. During the 2000 NBA Finals, though, the Lakers star was eager to show Smits who was boss.
When the Pacers and Lakers battled for the Larry O’Brien Trophy at the turn of the century, Smits was nearing the end of his career. Even yet, O’Neal was plagued by previous meetings with the Dunking Dutchman, who was eager to win his first title.
At the outset of the 2000 NBA Finals, Shaquille O’Neal wanted to send a message to Rik Smits.
In 2000, Shaquille O’Neal and the Lakers scraped and fought their way to the NBA Finals. They were up against the Portland Trail Blazers in a psychologically taxing seven-game series that might have gone any way. Shaq had defeated the Blazers, but now he was up against an old adversary.
Rik Smits in 1999-2000 was a shadow of the player that dominated in the paint in the mid- and late-1990s. Despite the fact that he was nearing the end of his career, he still had a few tricks under his sleeve.
Smits had a strong midrange game and outstanding low-block footwork. His career came to an end after his age-33 season due to injuries, but he still scored close to 13 points per game and shot over 48% from the field in his last season with the Pacers.
With Smits, Shaq didn’t want to take any risks. He wanted to show straight away that he was a completely different player. In 2017, O’Neal informed former Sports Illustrated writer Jack McCallum that he planned to seize control of the series early and go after Smits and the Pacers.
“I had to go back to an old tape when we faced them in the  Finals. I saw that this guy used to kill me, so now that I’m in the Finals, I’ve got to beat him right away so he realizes this isn’t the same Shaq.”
-Shaquille O’Neal, via Sports Illustrated (2017)
The Big Diesel didn’t only send Smits a message. He obliterated the Pacers completely.
In six games, O’Neal averaged 38.0 points, 16.7 rebounds, and 2.7 steals. In his first two games, he scored 40 points or more in both Laker victories. Indiana won two of the following three games, but Shaq replied with a 41-point performance in Game 6 to win his first NBA championship. It was the ideal way to finish off one of the most memorable individual seasons in NBA history.
Superman’s admiration for Smits provided inspiration.
During Game 3 of the 2000 NBA Finals, Rik Smits fights Shaquille O’Neal for the ball | DON EMMERT/AFP via Getty Images
Why was O’Neal so adamant on defeating Smits and the Pacers? Mostly because there was a period when he was unable to resist the Dutch tyrant.
During his NBA career, Shaq named Smits as one of the four centers that caused him the greatest difficulty. The other three are all Hall of Famers: Patrick Ewing, Hakeem Olajuwon, and David Robinson. That’s big praise for a Pacers veteran who has only made one All-Star squad in his career.
Despite not having the same name recognition as Ewing, Olajuwon, or Robinson, Smits was O’Neal’s kryptonite. In fact, if it hadn’t been for the injuries, Shaq claims he would have never found out how to defend Smits.
O’Neal told McCallum, “Rik crushed me every time.” “Oh, my God,” she said. I couldn’t stop that kid, pick-and-pop, jump hook in the post. I probably would not have been able to stop him if it hadn’t been for his foot problems.”
In some ways, Smits’ inclusion on the list is understandable. The other three players had a similar ability to shoot from the midrange and utilize their knowledge to put the ball in the basket. Smits was a savvy big who depended on talent, smarts, and placement rather than being a strong center.
Although Shaq was cautious about Smits and the Pacers ahead of the 2000 NBA Finals, the Lakers and The Diesel, who was putting the finishing touches on an MVP season, were ultimately no match for the Lakers and The Diesel.
Shaquille O’Neal had one of the greatest seasons in NBA history with the Lakers in 1999-2000.
Throughout his 19-year NBA career, Shaquille O’Neal was a difficult opponent to deal with, particularly during his tenure with the Lakers. During the 1999-2000 season, though, he was almost unstoppable.
That year, the Lakers’ star dominated the league. With 29.7 points per game, O’Neal won his second scoring championship, while also averaging 13.6 rebounds, 3.8 assists, and 3.0 blocks.
A closer examination reveals Shaq’s lone MVP season to be historically exceptional. His player efficiency rating of 30.65 puts him 18th all-time. With a value over replacement (VORP) of 9.04, he ranks 27th all-time. But that’s only the top of the iceberg.
During the playoffs, the Hall of Fame center dominated his opponents. In 23 postseason games, he shot 56.6 percent from the field and played 43.5 minutes per night, averaging 30.7 points, 15.4 rebounds, 3.1 assists, and 2.4 blocks.
During his career, O’Neal had a number of MVP-worthy seasons, but the 1999-2000 season was his finest. He finished strong, owing in part to some previous demons’ drive.
Basketball Reference provided the statistics.
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The shaq vs hakeem is a fight that took place in the NBA. It was between Shaquille O’Neal and Akeem Olajuwon, two of the greatest centers to ever play basketball.
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