Shaquille O’Neal was undoubtedly one of the toughest players to face in his prime, as many players can attest. Scot Pollard, a former NBA player, recently shared his experience guarding O’Neal and even joked about how it left him with a permanent backache. Pollard, who stands at 6’11” and weighs 265 lbs, described O’Neal as a massive force at 360 pounds or possibly even heavier.
O’Neal himself has made varying claims about his weight during his career. While the record books claim he weighed around 360 pounds, O’Neal once stated that he weighed as much as 395 pounds during the Lakers’ third title run. In a later claim, he even stated that he weighed 415 pounds during the Lakers’ championship run in 2002. These numbers, if accurate, would make O’Neal the heaviest player in NBA history.
Despite his size, O’Neal remained incredibly dominant on the court. In the 2001-02 season, he started 66 games and averaged impressive statistics, leading the Lakers to their third consecutive NBA title. He was also the first player since Michael Jordan to win three consecutive NBA Finals MVP awards.
While O’Neal posed a challenge for most centers, there were a few players who managed to give him a hard time. In an interview, O’Neal mentioned Hakeem Olajuwon, Patrick Ewing, David Robinson, and surprisingly, Rik Smits as tough opponents.
Unfortunately, Smits’ career was hindered by foot injuries, limiting him to only 506 games over 11 seasons in the NBA. Nonetheless, his talent and ability to challenge O’Neal showcased his potential to be among the greats of the game.