Vlade Divac: ‘Shaq wasn’t talented, he was just strong’

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Vlade Divac recently said that Kobe Bryant was the best talent that he ever played with, but his words weren’t nearly as glowing when discussing the abilities of one of Bryant’s Hall of Fame caliber teammates.

Divac had many battles with Shaquille O’Neal during his playing days with the Sacramento Kings, and told me last summer that the flopping style of play he became known for was a direct result of  O’Neal’s bruising style of play.

Now in a front office role with the Kings, Divac had some harsh criticism for O’Neal’s game when talking up the current face of the Sacramento franchise, DeMarcus Cousins.

From the Associated Press:

“I’ve been in basketball a long, long time, and I have to say he’s the most talented big guy I have ever seen,” Divac said Monday. “Shaq wasn’t talented — he was just strong. I was talented, but I wasn’t strong.”

Divac went on to call O’Neal one of the most dominant players ever. O’Neal, who knocked Divac and the Kings out of the playoffs in three straight seasons from 1999-2001, is now a minority owner with the team and one of Divac’s bosses.

“He always was my boss,” Divac said.

This comes across as bitterness from Divac, and not much else.

It’s not only disingenuous to say that O’Neal wasn’t talented; it’s a flat-out lie. There are plenty of players in the league that have traded on their size and strength over the years (Dwight Howard is a current example), but few if any were ever as dominant as O’Neal was while in his prime offensively. And, the way he developed an ability to pass out of double teams to find cutters or shooters for easy looks was just as important as the powerful scoring opportunities that he converted inside.

It’s possible to describe one player’s greatness without tearing another one down in the process. Those battles with Shaq back in the day were personal as far as Divac is concerned, and remarks like these make it clear he still harbors some resentment over how things went down, even all these years later.