Though it would be too strong to call Vlade Divac a Shaq-stopper, he did slow down Shaquille O'Neal in the memorable 2002 Western Conference finals. Here Divac imparts his strategy when he goes up against the NBA's irresistible force. "I have to approach it like Bill Russell approached playing Wilt Chamberlain. I have to try to outsmart Shaq, because I will never beat him physically."
First, meet him early, out on top of the foul circle. If you let him walk you down into the paint, he is impossible to handle. A few years ago, if he stopped outside, you were way ahead of the game, because he didn't have much of a shot. Now he has a little turnaround jumper and a hook with some range. But, obviously, those are the shots you still want him to take. He makes half of them, maybe more, but he makes all of his dunks
Second, try to make him tired. Run whenever you can. Approach it like a boxing match that's going 15 rounds. Running is not really my game, but I make it my game against Shaq. And when [Kings backup center] Scot Pollard comes in, he has to run.
Third, dart around a lot. Appear on one side of him one time, the other side the next time. Don't let him be comfortable. He has no fear, but he can have doubt—doubt about where you are. He tries to avoid offensive fouls, so you can get him thinking about that.
Fourth, make the ref call the game. Flopping? I don't call it flopping. I call it letting the ref know there is contact. If you can get Shaq thinking about you instead of thinking about the game, you've done something positive. He was frustrated at times in the playoffs, and for the first time he started talking to me. Things like, "Stop flopping, bitch." I tell him, "Just keep playing, Shaq." I don't know if he respects me, but I honestly do not care. The only respect I need on the court is respect from my teammates and from my coaches. If I play Shaq tough, I guarantee you I will have that respect.