Among the seemingly countless interesting bits coming out of Shaquille O’Neal’s new book — hitting stores next week, if you still buy your books in stores — were some swipes at Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
Shaq said that Kareem offered him no help through his NBA career. Which seems believable because Kareem is a bit standoffish.
“As a pro I never approached Shaq because I thought he was pretty successful dunking everything and I assumed he didn’t want my help,” Abdul-Jabbar said. “Additionally, I was never on the coaching staff of any of his teams. I was never unfriendly to him and I would talk to him, but Shaq was enjoying his success, doing it his way. He never asked me of what I thought he should be doing and he never tried to reach out to me for any instruction and I respected that decision.”
“If I had any idea that Shaq wanted to learn from me, I would have been happy to have worked with him, but all indications that I had received was that he felt he was doing fine and he didn’t need or want my help,” Abdul-Jabbar said. “I am totally surprised by Shaq’s comments as I tried to respect his privacy and never got any indication from anyone that he wanted or needed any input from me with regard to how he played the game. Shaq had a great career, and I, like everyone else, respect what he has achieved.”
Shaq’s dad is right — he didn’t really need the skyhook. People dismissed Shaq as a guy who could just dunk, but as our own John Krolik likes to point out the goal of an offensive player is to create a high-quality shot for himself (or a teammate) and they don’t get much more high quality than a dunk. If Shaq could power his way to the hoop for a dunk, he should.
But Kareem was more than one shot. Kareem came with tremendous footwork, passing skills, great court awareness, a very high IQ for the game. There were a lot of things he could have passed along.
But their personalities never really let that happen.