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Phil Jackson Compares Shaquille O'Neal to Wilt Chamberlain

Illustration for article titled Phil Jackson Compares Shaquille O'Neal to Wilt Chamberlain

Legendary basketball coach Phil Jackson made headlines last month when his book, Eleven Rings, was published. He compared Michael Jordan to Kobe Bryant in the book and concluded basically that Jordan was much better. This wasn't a surprise to anyone, but there was a lot of value in reading Jackson, who coached both players, break down why Jordan was better. Last week at a public appearance, Jackson weighed in on two of the greatest big men of all time: Shaquille O'Neal and Wilt Chamberlain.


Jackson coached Shaq for the Lakers' three-peat in 2000, 2001, and 2002, and had to guard Chamberlain back when Jackson played for the Knicks. Here he is talking about their athleticism:

"Shaquille didn't have quite the same athleticism that Wilt had," said Jackson. "He had the bounce and he had the speed, but he didn't have the endurance."

He also dished about how to guard Wilt Chamberlain. Basically, get in front of him and flop:

"One of the things we were taught, just get in Wilt's path. He doesn't like the offensive foul," said Jackson on Wednesday. "If you take his shoulder and you fake an offensive foul, take the charge so to speak, he really would stop being aggressive. That was the one thing that was kind of a limitation in Wilt's game."


Jackson on their respective strengths in the post:

"[O'Neal] had a jump hook whereas Wilt didn't have a jump hook, he had an array of shots, he had a hook, a finger roll and a turnaround jump shot," said Jackson. "[Chamberlain] led the league in assists one year."


Although they were both unstoppable at times, they were also terrible free throw shooters. Jackson was hacking Wilt three decades before players were hacking Shaq:

"Free-throw shooting? [Issues] on both sides," said Jackson. "Even then, at that time, you fouled Wilt if he was underneath the lane."


It's more difficult and maybe even futile to compare two centers who played in vastly different eras. But Jackson, one of the greatest minds in the game who was paid to analyze both, is one of the few people who can. You can read more over at the Los Angeles Times.

Photo Credit: Associated Press

[Los Angeles Times]