Shaquille O'Neal Takes Mutombo's Disrespect Personally

Shaquille O'Neal Takes Mutombo's Disrespect Personally

History

Basketball

February 29th, 2024

Shaquille O'Neal, a dominant force throughout his NBA career, was a player no one dared to mess with, especially during his peak years. This fact became even more evident during the 2001 NBA Finals when the Los Angeles Lakers faced the Philadelphia 76ers.

Shaquille O'Neal Takes Offense to Mutombo's Comments

Dikembe Mutombo, known for his defensive prowess and supreme confidence, attempted to get under Shaq's skin by claiming he could guard him single-handedly. This statement, as O'Neal recently revealed on his podcast, did not sit well with the Lakers legend.

While discussing his top 5 Atlanta athletes with rapper T.I., O'Neal visibly reacted when Mutombo's name came up. When asked "What's wrong with Mutombo," Shaq recounted the events of the 2001 Finals.

"During the Finals, I'm not even thinking about Mutombo, I'm thinking about A.I. (Allen Iverson)," O'Neal explained. "Uncle Jerome comes in and says, 'yo man, Mutombo said he's Defensive Player of the Year, he don't need no double team (to guard Shaq)'... Don't disrespect me by sayin you're going to play me 1-on-1. It's a sign of disrespect."

Shaq Dominates, Earns Finals MVP

These comments, relayed by O'Neal's bodyguard "Uncle" Jerome Crawford, were likely intended to motivate the Lakers star. And motivate him they did. Shaq, taking Mutombo's words as a personal challenge, averaged an impressive 33 points, 15.8 rebounds, 4.8 assists, and 3.4 blocks per game throughout the Finals, ultimately claiming the Finals MVP title. No player, not even Mutombo, could contain the unstoppable force that was Shaquille O'Neal.

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Image credit of Sports Illustrated

tag: Shaquille O'Neal , Lakers

Klei Hoxha Author

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