Shaquille O'Neal Says His Three-Peat Lakers Would've Beaten Chicago Bulls In Their Prime
Shaquille O'Neal didn't hesitate when asked if his and Kobe Bryant's Lakers teams that won three-straight championships from 2000-2002 would've beaten Michael Jordan's Chicago Bulls in their prime.
"I can strictly say I think we would've beaten them," O'Neal said in an interview with Ariel Helwani of ESPN.
Jordan led the Bulls to six NBA championships in eight years, but O'Neal thinks that the Lakers could've outmatched them.
"I would've killed Luc Longley, Bill Wennington, [Bill] Cartwright," O'Neal said. "The factor is me and my free-throw shooting."
O'Neal, a notoriously poor free throw shooter, acknowledged that if Phil Jackson were coaching the Bulls, everything might've hinged on whether he made his shots from the charity stripe.
"He would've tried the hack-a-Shaq thing," O'Neal said of Jackson. "I still would average like 28, 29 [points], but the key would've been free throws. With me, it's always 50-50. If I would've been on, we win. If I would've been off, we lose."
O'Neal wasn't always so sure of himself.
"When I first got into the league, I was terrified of Jordan," O'Neal said. "The reason why I was terrified because as a kid, it was like you were watching a God. Now you're on the same court with God. And all of the stuff he was doing when I was kid is true. He can fly, he can bump you in the air, still be in the air when you come down and lay it up. He's in perfect condition, his jump shot is crazy. If he steals the ball on the break all of the fans are going to standup and he's going to dunk it."
O'Neal said that while some NBA players weren't as impressive in person, Jordan lived up to all of the hype and lore surrounding his name.
"Everything I was seeing when I was a kid was really true," O'Neal said. "A lot of guys, I was like, 'Oh, I saw you on TV, but now that I'm here, you're not really that good.' But with him, everything you saw as a kid was true."
Even so, he thinks him and Kobe Bryant would've had the upper hand.