The Nuggets’ Nikola Jokic has established himself as one of the best passers in the NBA over the last couple of years, but Shaquille O’Neal thinks he can give the Serbian a run for his money. Shaq recently replied to a clip of him with an 18-year-old Kobe Bryant to say that he was a better passer in his prime than Jokic. The clip showed footage from a game that took place in 1996. The post made waves on Instagram, accumulating over 25,000 likes.
Shaq is one of the most commanding players in NBA history and led the Lakers to a three-peat of championships from 2000-2002, putting up historic numbers during the postseason. Despite the game and its tactics and wants changing, Shaq still thinks his natural passing skill was higher than Jokic. The clip on Instagram, which shows Shaq quickly collect and threading the ball to a young Kobe Bryant, shows off just how good he really was and how easy he made Basketball look.
The post was captioned, “Rookie Kobe, Shaq pass better [than] Joker no cap”, to which Shaq himself responded by saying, “Yes I do.”
Whether or not Shaq is the better all time passer than ‘Joker’ is something that ultimately can’t really be known for sure. Number wise, Jokic has O’Neal beat handily. The Joker averaged nearly 9.5 assists during the postseason en route to the Championship. Shaq, on the other hand, even in his most dominant era averaged only 3.2 assists a game. This could reflect on their natural passing instinct and skill, but it could also reflect the changing sport of Basketball and the changing role of the center in the sport.
Jokic instrumental for Nuggets’ first ever NBA Championship
Jokic was arguably the most important part of the Nuggets’ campaign. He used not only his elite passing ability, but would also go on scoring sprees which left the opposition quickly out of good answers for the team.
They would often have to choose between letting Jokic tear the defense apart or concede open shots. The two-time MVP has cemented himself in NBA history with this era defining performance, also revolutionizing the role of a center in the process.