It is no secret that Shaquille O'Neal has been heavily critical of Jazz big man Rudy Gobert in the past.
After Gobert agreed to a 5-year, $205 million extension with Utah, the Diesel flamed him multiple times in the following months, spreading the idea that a guy who averaged "just 11 points" earning such a large payday is completely ludicrous.
Bizarrely, though, Shaq's latest mention of the multi-millionaire center did not include criticism, but rather heavy praise. Lauding his size, work ethic, and defensive abilities, O'Neal said today's bigs should follow in his footsteps if they want to make a name for themselves and secure the bag.
“Rudy Gobert is not an average big guy NBA player no more. Because the average big, they’re looking for a guy who can pick and pop and do whatever. Rudy Gobert is big, tall, plays hard, plays great defense. Defensive Player of the Year. But he’s making 200 million. So all you big guys out there?
Look at him. Follow him. You’re not gonna be LeBron, Kobe, or KG. But I think there’s a lot of big guys even today that can do what he can do.”
(start at 1:02:00)
Gobert isn't a very flashy player, and he's not necessarily very "modern" either. He's a traditional rim-running center who grabs boards, gets blocks, and scores easy points in the paint. While Rudy is especially good at defending the rim, it seems that his formula of working hard and knowing his role is a successful one.
So much so, in fact, that not even Shaq can ignore it.