One challenge Rudy Gobert must overcome to impress Shaquille O’Neal amid brutal criticism

Shaquille O’Neal, being one of the greatest big men of the game, has exclusive access to assess the other big men in the league. The 7’1″ legend does the exact same with his analyst role at TNT. Being among the most influential players of all time gives the needed credibility to his takes.

The 4-time NBA Champion also has his own podcast to share his views. After the Timberwolves’s comeback victory, Shaq showered praise on Anthony Edwards, but his tone has changed for Ant-Man’s teammate Rudy Gobert, and he made sure to throw a challenge for the Frenchman to overcome.

Shaquille O’Neal reveals one way Rudy Gobert can earn his respect

Since his NBA debut in 2013, Rudy Gobert has made a name for himself as one of the best defenders in the league. The 7’1″ center has already won 3 Defensive Player of the Year (DPOY) awards and is well on course to pick up a fourth one this season.

Gobert has been shepherding the Timberwolves defensive play, making them one of the best defensive outfits in the NBA right now. The Timberwolves being the third-seeded team in the competitive Western Conference is a testament to that. But this is not something that has impressed Shaquille O’Neal.

On his “The Big Podcast”, Shaq has explained why he is not convinced of Rudy Gobert’s defensive acumen. Reiterating how unimpressed he has been with Gobert and never rated him as a top defender, Shaq said, “See, what it is, there’s not a lot of centers that are making him play defense. Like, he’s not doing that s**t against Joker… He’s 7’6″, of course, if you lay it up, he’s going to block it. But defense to me is guard that guy and shut him down.”

After his explanation, Shaq also left a task for the French center to earn his respect. “You want to impress me? Hold Joker under 15 points. All that weakside shot blocking, that’s cool. But it’s not going to work against guys like me and Joker.”

Shaquille O’Neal takes sly dig at Rudy Gobert

Shaquille O’Neal’s Rudy Gobert bashing did not stop there. After providing the stiff task of stopping Nikola Jokic, Shaq also took the scalpel to postmortem Rudy’s Timberwolves contract and stats this season. Putting the 31-year-old’s performance into context Shaq claimed that he could have made the same money as Gobert at the age of 42 by putting the same effort.

“If I was 42 I’d be making Rudy Gobert money, twelve points and eight rebounds? I could do that s** right now. It’s not a diss, it’s a fact. N**a making $250 (million)? God damn. Averaging 12 points,” Shaq said to his podcast partners.

Rudy Gobert has been scoring at the rate of 13.7 this season along with 12.9 rebounds and 1.2 assists. The number of rebounds he puts in and the blocks he makes are vital components to the Timberwolves’ success since his switch from the Jazz in 2022.

Shaq previously backed himself in a 3-point shooting contest against Rudy Gobert, but this time his shot on Gobert seems quite off the mark. While Shaq’s hating on the league’s big men continues, Gobert and Co. are focusing on their playoff bid with their next game coming up against the center’s former team the Jazz on Mar. 17.

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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