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WILT TO THE HILT
Jack McCallum
June 17, 2002
Comparisons between O'Neal and Wilt Chamberlain have come up frequently during the Finals. (Bryant, incidentally, gave Shaq the nickname of Wilt Chamberneezy; Shaq had it inscribed on a baseball cap.) It's not only contemporary chroniclers who find O'Neal as formidable as the man who in '61-62 averaged 50.4 points. "People think it's all power with Shaq, but they're wrong," says 86-year-old Pete Newell, the big-man guru who coached against Wilt and who schooled Shaq at his off-season camp in the early '90s. "Here's what I've seen him do in one game: bank off the glass. Little lob hook in the paint. Step-back move on the baseline. Quick spin move, then come out on the other side of the basket to shoot. And a neat step-through move when he was doubled or tripled. Go over the history of centers, and can you remember anyone showing all that? Maybe Hakeem Olajuwon, but he didn't have a power game. Wilt? Mikan? Kareem? Russell? No way. None of the great centers had Shaq's moves and counters, and none of them, including Wilt, had his strength." Another underrated aspect of Shaq's game, as Nets center Todd MacCulloch has observed, is that he is comfortable setting up on either block and can also shoot from the middle of the lane.
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June 17, 2002

Wilt To The Hilt

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Comparisons between O'Neal and Wilt Chamberlain have come up frequently during the Finals. (Bryant, incidentally, gave Shaq the nickname of Wilt Chamberneezy; Shaq had it inscribed on a baseball cap.) It's not only contemporary chroniclers who find O'Neal as formidable as the man who in '61-62 averaged 50.4 points. "People think it's all power with Shaq, but they're wrong," says 86-year-old Pete Newell, the big-man guru who coached against Wilt and who schooled Shaq at his off-season camp in the early '90s. "Here's what I've seen him do in one game: bank off the glass. Little lob hook in the paint. Step-back move on the baseline. Quick spin move, then come out on the other side of the basket to shoot. And a neat step-through move when he was doubled or tripled. Go over the history of centers, and can you remember anyone showing all that? Maybe Hakeem Olajuwon, but he didn't have a power game. Wilt? Mikan? Kareem? Russell? No way. None of the great centers had Shaq's moves and counters, and none of them, including Wilt, had his strength." Another underrated aspect of Shaq's game, as Nets center Todd MacCulloch has observed, is that he is comfortable setting up on either block and can also shoot from the middle of the lane.

WILT CHAMBERLAIN

7'1", 275 pounds
Career totals (1959-60 to '72-73)
30.1 ppg, 22.9 rpg, 4.4 apg
54.0 FG%, 51.1 FT%

SHAQUILLE O'NEAL

7'1", 345 pounds
Career totals (1992-93 to '01-02)
27.6 ppg, 12.3 rpg, 2.8 apg
57.7 FG%, 53.3 FT%

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