Chris Russo on Nikola Jokic: he is better than Shaquille O’Neal

Shaquille O’Neal was nothing short of an NBA marvel who changed the course of the game by rewriting the norms of how a center should play. Through his dominant physique and inhuman agility, Shaq ruled over the NBA world in his heydays.

Now in 2024, the paradigm of the game has shifted but another center is the undisputed top dog of the game and that is Nikola Jokic. Among his legion of fans, one name stands out who has an interesting beef with Shaquille O’Neal which has again come to the surface.

Chris Russo gets back at Shaq with Nikola Jokic comparison

The sports Radio personality Chris Russo revealed his affection for the Denver Nuggets and shared his list of NBA stars on Stephen A. Smith’s “First Take” which created a lot of controversies.

First off, he started by praising the Nuggets and their recent victories over successful teams such as the Eastern table toppers Boston Celtics, the joint most championship title-winning team, the Lakers, the Miami Heat and the Golden State Warriors. In the flow of discussion, Russo boldly claimed that he finds Nuggets star Nikola Jokic better than the 15-time All-Star Shaquille O’Neal.

Speaking about his love for the Denver team and applauding their potential to deal with pressure situations, the “Mad Dog” showed disappointment for the Canadian point guard Jamal Murray not getting selected for the NBA All-Star Games. Russo also emphasized on the exceptional skills of the 2-time MVP Jokic calling him “the greatest center in the history of the NBA.”

The 64-year-old went on to place him on the top of his list followed by some of the legendary NBA centers.

“He might be at the end of his career. He’s that good. He’s better than Shaq. I’ll tell you that right now. Oh, he is. And not just Shaq. I mean he’s better than Malone, Olajuwon. He does everything. He passes, he dribbles. He is great. Jokic is great,” claimed Russo.

Nikola Jokic is at the peak of his record-breaking career and is currently the fan favorite in the MVP title race. The Serbian has averaged 26 points, 12.3 rebounds and 9.2 assists while shooting at 58.2% from the floor and 34.9% from the 3-point arc so far this season and leading the Nuggets to the 2nd position of the Western Conference table. Despite his supremacy in the league right now, Jokic has a long way to go to match the accolades that Shaquille O’Neal has.

Shaquille O’Neal’s feud with Russo

Chris Russo has put his hand in the lion’s mouth by not listing the Lakers legend Shaquille O’Neal among his top five center and instead tried to belittle him.

Earlier in December, on the same show when the host Stephen A. Smith was discussing with Jay Williams and Russo about O’Neal’s comment that the Warriors star Stephen Curry should be included in the best players list, Russo made a bold statement. He said, “Shaq is, what, the fifth-best center in the history of the NBA?”

Russo’s list included Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Tim Duncan, Wilt Chamberlain, Hakeem Olajuwon while he claimed that even Moses Malone was better than Shaq. The big man did not react to it much initially as Shaq did not know who Russo was. Later he lashed out at Russo and made his true feelings known.

The 4-time NBA champion knows how to deal with criticism and has lashed back at Russo a couple of days ago. Shaq has the “G-14 classification,” the right he and former NFL QB Cam Newton had earned to call themselves pros at their respective fields after achieving so much.

The 52-year-old said, “Now, so a lot of dudes, who have no G-14 classification, like * ‘Mad Dog.’ Like, what the **** do you know about quarterbacks? What the **** do you know about being a big? So, shut the **** up, Mad Dog. Stick to the traditional media. When it comes to sports, you don’t know what the **** you’re talking about; I do. See all this writing on the wall? That’s * me.”

Shaq instructed his audience to not listen to Russo as he insisted Russo has no knowledge about the sport. Being one of the most self-aware centers, O’Neal knows about his achievements in the league and his popularity. Now it will be interesting to see if the ever-vocal 7-footer reacts to Russo calling Jokic better than him.

Shalini Ray

297 articles

Shalini is a passionate NBA follower who got hooked to the game thanks to Stephen Curry's sharpshooting show. While indulging in the sport of basketball solely within the confines of the school court, she keeps herself as close as possible to the game through all the latest happenings in the world of NBA.


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