Shaquille O’Neal, the Hall of Famer who won three of his four NBA championships with the Lakers, decided to reach out to The Times to share his list of top 10 all-time greatest players, his reason for doing so was to show his respect to Julius Erving for his list and to let the critics know that he supports the opinion of “the great Dr. J.”
When Erving left LeBron James and Stephen Curry off his top 10 during a recent interview, it rubbed some the wrong way, including Atlanta Hawks All-Star guard Trae Young.
Erving’s top-10 list, in no particular order, was Jerry West, Oscar Robertson, Elgin Baylor, Wilt Chamberlain, Bill Russell, Michael Jordan, Kareem Adbul-Jabbar, Karl Malone, Magic Johnson and Nate “Tiny” Archibald. Erving said he left James and Curry off his list because both are still playing in the NBA.
O’Neal was not partaking in the criticism, quickly saying anyone disagreeing with Erving should just stop.
“Hey, man, I got no problem with Dr. J’s list,” O’Neal said. “He’s the great Dr. J. He paved the way for all of us. He can say what he wants and nobody should say a damn thing about it.”
O’Neal then gave his top 10, adding more fodder to the conversation by giving a first and second team.
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He said his first team, in no particular order, was Magic Johnson, Kobe Bryant, Michael Jordan, LeBron James and then [expletive] me.”
“That ain’t no disrespect to Malone, [Charles] Barkley and Kareem,” O’Neal said. “Hey, that’s my list. Understand what I’m saying?”
O’Neal said coming off his bench would be Curry, Allen Iverson, Tim Duncan, Malone and Isiah Thomas.
“Yeah,” O’Neal said. “And you can quote me on that.”
O’Neal paused for a moment, adding, “also, you got to put Kareem on that second team too,” which, of course, is now a top 11.
But who’s counting?
“Dr. J has his list and I have my list,” O’Neal said. “I’m all good with Dr. J’s list.”
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This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.