He’s a conundrum for you: How can Shaquille O’Neal be so opposed to Anthony Davis’ game, yet still tell his son to study up on how he competes.
Incredibly, that’s precisely what seems to be unfolding, with the elder O’Neal following up comments from the early summer that were critical of Davis with the revelation that he has told his son to study how Davis plays and mimic his style.
Here’s a bit more context about Shaq’s criticism of Davis, as part of a broader hatchet job on the “modern NBA player.” Most strikingly, Shaq said Davis would be “barbecue chicken” against overpowering centers like Shaq in the paint. Oh yes, there was more broad color about Davis and his ilk, as told to the Wall Street Journal.
“Now, there are new enemies that have come up, but they’re no match for the great Shaq Fu. So, the great Shaq Fu is in the mountain, chilling with Buddha and the monasteries, chilling with the rest of the Buddhist monks. And whoever wants to challenge him, they know where to find him.”
Got your head around those comments? Good for you, because that’s both deep and confusing, to put it mildly. Now here’s Shaq speaking to the New Orleans Picayune Tribune, giving his take about why Davis is a valid role model for his son, Shareef O’Neal.
”I told him to watch Anthony because he’s probably going to be the same height and have the same type of build,” O’Neal told the newspaper. ”Not skinny, but long.
”He’s (Davis) probably the best at that position. He can run, rebound, dominate take over games. He’s going to do his thing this year.”
Yes, those are two very contradictory statements. Still, the second may be much more important, in part because it gives insight into what O’Neal really thinks about Davis if he is in fact pushing for Shareef to mold his game off Davis and not himself. The younger O’Neal is a budding superstar at Windward School.
Will Shareef be the next Shaq? Probably not, though at least we know he has the genes. Will be be the next Anthony Davis? Perhaps. If all goes well, he’ll be the first Shareef O’Neal. If his father has anything to say about it, he might just resemble something closer to Davis than Shaq himself, too.