Hong Kong - Shaquille O’Neal weighed into basketball's great debate on Tuesday
when he backed a young Michael Jordan to beat LeBron James one-on-one -
but added that both were outshone by the legendary Dr. J.
O'Neal, visiting Hong Kong to promote an energy drink, faced both
Jordan and James in their prime and when asked who would win a
hypothetical match-up, he didn't hesitate.
“Mike,” said O’Neal, winner of four NBA titles with the Los Angeles
Lakers (2000-2002) and the Miami Heat (2006).
“I think you have to go
with a young Jordan every time.”
O’Neal was addressing an issue which has captured the imagination
during the NBA off-season after both James and Jordan insisted they
would win if they clashed at the height of their powers.
In comments splashed by media, Jordan said he would come out on top
“No question”, while James retorted to the NBC’s Today show: “I’m gonna
take myself versus anybody”.
But Shaq, 43, said he’d side with Chicago Bulls star Jordan over Cleveland’s James.
“It would be an interesting game,” said O’Neal.
“Young LeBron was
more like (Lakers Hall of Famer) Magic Johnson. He was sort of like
Magic with Jordan’s abilities. He liked to pass, and he liked to get it
“But Mike was Mike. He was just special, like no one else. He always
did things no one else could do, and things you couldn't compare to
anyone else. So he was special, and he’d win.”
The 30-year-old James’ star continues to rise through two NBA titles
with the Miami Heat (2011-12, 2012-13), four NBA MVPs, and a return to
his hometown of Cleveland on a mission to lead the Cavaliers to their
There has also been much debate over whether he, or the now-retired
Jordan – with six NBA titles and five NBA MVPs to his name - could be
labelled the greatest of all time.
But O’Neal threw another player into the mix when he said 1970s and
1980s superstar Julius Erving AKA Dr. J was the best he had ever seen.
“I’ve seen young Mike and young LeBron and I must say Dr. J is still
my favourite player,” said O’Neal.
“A lot of people today don’t even
mention his name but to me I still think he was the best. But these are
questions that we’ll never know the answer to.
“It’s a bit like if I met Bruce Lee in an alleyway. Who would win?
You’ll never know. Some people say well Bruce would kick Shaq’s ass.
Some people say well Shaq is two times bigger than Bruce Lee. It’s a
good question, a good conversation. But we’ll never know.”