SI.com Home
Get SI's Duke Championship Package Free  Subscribe to SI Give the Gift of SI
Posted: Monday June 29, 2009 11:40AM; Updated: Monday June 29, 2009 11:40AM
Ian Thomsen Ian Thomsen >
INSIDE THE NBA

Shaq places top draftee Griffin in same class as LeBron, Kobe

Story Highlights

Shaquille O'Neal thinks Blake Griffin among most intriguing rookies

O'Neal has told son to pattern game after the Clippers rookie draft pick

Cavaliers scheduled to introduce O'Neal as team member this week

Decrease font Decrease font
Enlarge font Enlarge font
blake-griffin3.jpg
No. 1 draft pick Blake Griffin's toughness and athleticism are traits that impressed not only the Clippers, but Shaquille O'Neal, also.
AP
Ian Thomsen's Mailbag
Ian Thomsen will periodically answer questions from SI.com users in his mailbag.
Name:
Email:
Hometown:
Question:

Amid complaints about the dearth of talent in last week's NBA draft, No. 1 pick Blake Griffin has earned resounding approval from Shaquille O'Neal.

Shaq believes Griffin, the new 6-foot-10 power forward of the Los Angeles Clippers, deserves mention with the most intriguing rookies of the past 15 years.

"Every now and then you get that special case," O'Neal told SI.com. "Kobe was that special case, [Kevin] Garnett was that special case, and LeBron James ..."

Here he pauses, like an emcee introducing a surprise guest to the stage.

"And now I actually think this guy Blake Griffin is a special case," said O'Neal. "He plays the game like a big man should play -- hard-nosed, tough. I really like his game.

"My (10 year old) son is starting to play now, and I don't like to let him watch players that are really, really fancy. Of course, I'll let him watch Kobe, LeBron, T-Mac (Tracy McGrady). But I show him Blake Griffin and I say, 'Shareef, this is the dude you should watch and pattern your game after.' Because my son, when he's older, I think he's going to have the same body type -- 6-10, muscular, freakish athletically."

As O'Neal prepares to visit Cleveland this week for the first time since his recent trade to the Cavaliers, he promises to remain even-tempered about the possibility of helping LeBron win his first championship.

"My wife said this is the first time she's seen a great team get a great player and not lose any players," said O'Neal of the blockbuster that sent Ben Wallace, Sasha Pavlovic, a second-round pick and $500,000 to the Phoenix Suns. "But I'm going to take it one game. Anybody can say [they're going to win a title", but now you've got to get there.

"Anytime you're in the Finals, they want you to do the promo pics with the gold ball, but I won't do it. 'Just take the picture.' No, I won't do it. It's just one picture, but I'm not jinxing myself."

ADVERTISEMENT
SI.com
Hot Topics: NBA Playoffs NHL Playoffs Chris Johnson Jameis Winston NFL Draft Michael Sam Aldon Smith
TM & © 2013 Time Inc. A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved. Terms under which this service is provided to you. Read our privacy guidelines and ad choices.
SI CoverRead All ArticlesBuy Cover Reprint