Shaquille O’Neal, the legendary basketball player and 4-time champion, recently opened up about a regret he carries from his career. In an interview with GQ, Shaq reflected on his time with the Boston Celtics and how it impacted his pursuit of the title of the “most dominant” player in NBA history, a crown he believed belonged to him. This internal conflict was largely fueled by his rivalry with Kobe Bryant, his former teammate, and it ultimately led to Shaq losing the opportunity to claim the coveted title he desired.
Shaquille O’Neal’s Boston Regret: Losing the ‘Most Dominant’ Title”
Since his debut in the NBA in 1992, Shaq had set his sights on becoming the epitome of dominance on the court. His only obstacle in achieving this feat was the late Wilt Chamberlain, who had mesmerized fans with his remarkable performances in the late 1950s and early 1970s. Shaq acknowledged this, stating, “Most dominant, my category, is only one or two people. I’m fine with that. It’s either me or Wilt.”
With the intention of surpassing Chamberlain in every aspect by the end of his career, Shaq had already surpassed him in championships, securing four compared to Chamberlain’s two. The next milestone he aimed to conquer was surpassing Chamberlain on the all-time scoring leaders list. However, during this pursuit, Kobe Bryant won his fifth championship, which ignited a burning desire within Shaq to match his former teammate’s achievement.
In the 2010/11 season, Shaq signed with the Boston Celtics, driven by the dual objectives of chasing his fifth championship and surpassing Chamberlain in scoring. He admitted, “When I signed a two-year deal with Boston, I was chasing that fifth ring to catch up with Kobe, but I was also chasing points to catch up with Wilt.”
Unfortunately, the season didn’t unfold as Shaq had hoped, and he fell short of both his goals. Soon after, he announced his retirement from the sport. Looking back, Shaq expressed remorse over his decision, realizing that had he surpassed Chamberlain, he could have confidently claimed the title of the “most dominant” player ever.
He shared, “If I had passed Wilt, I would have got on TV arrogantly and say, ‘I am the most dominant person ever. I don’t wanna hear nobody else’s name, period.’ Boom, boom, boom. ‘Nobody did what I did, nobody did it like I do. Forget Wilt.’ But because I didn’t pass him, I have to allow people to still say his name.”
O’Neal’s candid reflection on his time with the Boston Celtics and the missed opportunity to claim the title of the “most dominant” player reveals the complexities and personal ambitions that can influence a player’s career. Despite his immense success and numerous accolades, Shaq’s pursuit of greatness and the desire to leave an unrivaled legacy remain ever-present in his mind.