Former Los Angeles Lakers center Shaquille O’Neal was without a doubt one of the most unstoppable forces in NBA history. Shaq’s size, strength, and quickness posed serious problems for opponents with the only alternative being to foul him and foul him hard.
Not since the days of Shaq’s dominant years with the Lakers and Orlando Magic has there been a player as physically imposing as the four-time NBA champion. Although we’ve yet to see Shaq’s equal, one of the O’Neal’s former teammates, current Cleveland Cavaliers head coach, Tyronn Lue, believes LeBron James is in the same category.
Lue said the following about his superstar and how he compares to Shaq during his prime years with the Lakers, via ESPN’s Dave McMenamin:
“He’s the Shaq of guards and forwards,” Lue said before the Cavs held shootaround Sunday morning in preparation for Game 4 of their first-round series with the Detroit Pistons, which Cleveland leads 3-0. “He’s so strong and so physical, when he goes to the basket, guys are bouncing off of him. Those are still fouls, but he doesn’t get that call because he’s so big and so strong and so physical.”
Lue obviously isn’t happy about LeBron not getting foul calls during the team’s first-round playoff series with the Detroit Pistons, but Stan Van Gundy had a different view for which he was fined by the league. Van Gundy believes LeBron isn’t charged with enough offensive fouls when he bulldozes his way to the basket.
The Cavaliers currently have a 3-0 lead in the series and will likely advance with relative ease. The Pistons have given the Cavs trouble at times during the series, but unless Detroit can turn it around immediately, it’s only a matter of time before Cleveland moves on.
Lue said Shaq told his Lakers teammates that it didn’t matter how big he was, he still felt all the fouls the same way anyone else would, via McMenamin:
“We used to tease Shaq all the time about soft fouls. He said: ‘Listen, if I pinch you, it feels the same way when you pinch me. No matter how big I am, it feels the same.’ I never thought about it like that. That’s kind of how LeBron feels.”
The real test for LeBron and company will come in the next round if the Miami Heat advance by getting the best of Jeremy Lin’s Charlotte Hornets. James has yet to beat his former team since returning to Cleveland and will be challenged both physically and mentally in a crucial second-round matchup.