Lakers’ legend Shaquille O’Neal opens up about the Hack-a-Shaq strategy, talks about why it couldn’t stop him
When one thinks of the most dominating player in NBA History, there is no player that comes ahead of Shaquille O’Neal. The 7’1 big was a certified bad man and could destroy almost any opponent on the court single-handedly. Once Shaq had the ball and was driving in the paint, only a sign from God himself could stop the big man.
Shaquille O’Neal, in his 19 years in the NBA, won four championships, 3 Finals MVP, one MVP, and had countless more achievements under his belt. Teams were running out of ideas to try and stop the man from dominating. However, late in the 90s, one strategy seemed to work well enough: Hack-a-Shaq.
As good as Shaq was from the paint, one of the weakest aspects of his game was free-throw shooting. Opponent coaches knew that, and to slow down the big, they started fouling him on drives, and late in games. This way, Shaq would have to earn his points from the charity stripe, instead of dominating his way in the paint and securing them.
Shaquille O’Neal talks about the ‘Hack-a-Shaq’ strategy
After being subjected to the same for years and years, Shaquille O’Neal once talked about Hack-a-Shaq on TNT, when he was working as an analyst. The strategy did not seem to bother him at all, as it was a gamble for the opponents. While there were times when Shaq missed both the free-throws, there were also times when he made both as well.
In an old interview, Shaq was once heard describing the strategy as a confidence booster for him. His approach towards the same was:
“The Hack-A-Shaq is just a way of telling me that you can’t stop me. Thank you. I appreciate it.”
For a player as great as Shaq, it would have been a great feeling to know that you are so unstoppable that teams literally had to resort to fouling to contain you. However, despite all of the same, Shaq never improved his FT shooting, staying at 52.7% from the charity stripe in his career.