With “The Last Dance” – a 10-part documentary series about the 1997-98 Chicago Bulls – debuting Sunday, Shaquille O’Neal decided to talk a little trash. O’Neal said that the 2000s Lakers would “easily” beat Jordan’s Bulls because he – Shaq – would have “killed” Bulls big men Luc Longley, Bill Wennington and Bill Cartwright.
Tiki Barber and Brandon Tierney aren’t so sure about that.
“They’re not going to blow out the Bulls, so it’s going to come down to who can score at the end of games – and anybody with any sense knows that you foul Shaq at the end of games and force him to beat you at the free-throw line, which he couldn’t do,” Barber said on Tiki & Tierney. “So just for that point alone, I’m saying there’s no chance this happens. Now defensively, he would have been very impactful. Michael in the lane is not happening as much. That fadeaway is not as effective in the lane with Shaq still standing there. But at the end of the day, it would be interesting to see. It’d be hard to say who would dominate. I don’t think it would be dominant either way.”
It likely wouldn’t be, which is why O’Neal's comments seem a tad over-the-top.
“Yeah, I’m uncomfortable with Shaq using the word easily,” Tierney said. “That’s a little nuts. Take it easy there, Shaq. The biggest question, we could talk about player personnel, roster-for-roster, and he mentioned Wennington and Luc Longley and Bill Cartwright – that’s fine, even though I think he understates what they were. They were big, they were all first-round picks, they were all over 7-feet, and they were all over 260 pounds. Those are six fouls and heavy bodies leaning on you, so I think he kind of glosses over that a little bit.”
The biggest question, though, has nothing to do with Michael or Shaq – or Kobe or Scottie. Rather, it has everything to do with who’s patrolling the sidelines.
“Who’s coaching?” Tierney asked. “Phil Jackson coached Michael Jordan’s team, and Phil Jackson coached Kobe and Shaq as well. I’m going to give Phil to the Bulls because he was there first. So who’s coaching the Lakers? Del Harris? Magic Johnson? Rudy Tomjanovich? Pat Riley is with the Heat at this point. Who’s coaching the Lakers? The gap in whomever is coaching the Lakers at that point versus Phil Jackson is so wide, the schism is so pronounced there, that anything else to me is almost immaterial. It’s that big of an advantage, which is why I think the Bulls would win.”