Shaquille O'Neal -- aka Shaq Daddy, Diesel, the Big Aristotle -- has always been bigger than life, but he says someone else is shining brighter.
"He's better because he has more opportunity to showcase more," O'Neal said. "I was a post player, and the only thing I was allowed to showcase was my domination. He's running the floor. I did that early, [but] I stopped doing that because I stopped getting the ball when I ran the floor, so I turned into a half-court dominant player."
It's not an apples-to-apples comparison, considering that O'Neal is over 7 feet tall and played at over 300 pounds. Antetokounmpo is 6-foot-11, 240 pounds but basically plays every position on the court. O'Neal also played in an era when centers were expected to play close to the basket.
What does compare is their sheer dominance. O'Neal made 15 All-Star Games on his way to a Hall of Fame career. Through his age 24 season he averaged 26.9 points, 12.4 rebounds and 2.76 blocks per game.
Antetokounmpo, 24, has averaged 18.7 points, 8.3 rebounds and 4.1 assists so far in his career. But he got off to a much slower start, averaging only 6.8 points and 4.4 rebounds his rookie season, compared to 23.4 points and 13.9 rebounds for O'Neal.
Antetokounmpo has been putting up Shaq-esque numbers this season. His 27.4 points per game are good for fifth in the league, and his 12.5 rebounds per contest put him in sixth.
Where Antetokounmpo has the advantage over O'Neal so far is in durability. He has averaged 77 games per season to 69 through his age 24 season for Shaq. Injuries limited O'Neal to only 54 games at age 23 and 51 at age 24.
Antetokounmpo is being mentioned alongside James Harden as an MVP candidate because he has led the Bucks to the best record in the league.
O'Neal has heaped praise on players before. He once called LeBron James a combination of himself, Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson. He said Kobe Bryant should be in the discussion for best all time. At one point, he said Anthony Davis was the top power forward in the league. Antetokounmpo has joined that company, exceeding what O'Neal did to that point in his career.
"But yeah, he's better," O'Neal said. "And that's why I gave up my 'Superman' title to him [in November]. And you know what? He works hard. He's a humble kid. He works hard. He doesn't just come and show up and expect people to say, 'Oh, hey, I do this, I do that, I'm the next ...' Nah, this kid actually works, and he's earned it. He's earned my respect, and he deserves it, so I'm giving it to him. To answer all the critics' questions, you're right, the kid was better than me at 24."