Stephen A. Smith Prefers Prime Shaq Over Jokic: 'Triple Coverage Required'

Exploring the Giants of Basketball's Elite Circle

by Zain ul Abedin
Stephen A. Smith Prefers Prime Shaq Over Jokic: 'Triple Coverage Required'
© Rob Carr/Getty Images

In the ever-evolving landscape of the NBA, comparisons between past and present greats offer a captivating glimpse into the game's dynamics. Amidst this discourse, NBA commentator Stephen A. Smith recently shared his perspective, favoring the indomitable Shaquille O'Neal over current Denver Nuggets sensation, Nikola Jokic.

Smith's analysis, delivered on his show, underscores a generational debate about dominance on the basketball court. While acknowledging the shift in the game's rules and style that seemingly benefits Jokic, Smith argues that O'Neal's era-defining presence would still overpower modern strategies.

"In his prime, Shaq was an unstoppable force, reminiscent of Wilt Chamberlain's reign. Despite his free-throw struggles, teams had to deploy triple coverage, a testament to his sheer dominance," Smith remarked, highlighting the strategic dilemma O'Neal posed to opponents.

Furthermore, Smith's admiration extends beyond O'Neal. He posits that, barring his injury history, Philadelphia 76ers' Joel Embiid would also eclipse Jokic in his preferences. Embiid's blend of size, skill, and agility makes him a formidable contender in Smith's eyes, setting aside Jokic's remarkable durability which has indeed played a significant role in his accolades.

Big Men Dominance

The ongoing debate between the league's top big men, including Embiid and Jokic, continues to captivate fans and analysts alike. Jokic's back-to-back MVP titles in 2020-21 and 2021-22, and Embiid's recent ascendancy, underscore the tight competition at the pinnacle of the NBA.

O'Neal, often cited as the most dominant player to grace the hardwood, left an indelible mark on the NBA. His physical prowess necessitated strategic adjustments, with teams stacking their rosters with additional big men solely to contend with his overwhelming presence.

Richard Jefferson's reflections on Shaq's impact encapsulate the tactical shifts he forced, underscoring the legacy of a player who reshaped the game. While Jokic's versatility and skill set offer a stark contrast to O'Neal's brute force, Smith's analysis invites a broader consideration of basketball's evolving narrative.

As the game continues to change, comparisons between legends of different eras not only celebrate their greatness but also enrich our appreciation for the sport's dynamic history.

Stephen A. Smith