The NBA Finals are set to take place on Thursday, June 7th. LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers will be taking on the Golden State Warriors for a chance at winning their third straight championship.

Edward Said’s orientalism is a work that explores the Western perspective on East and East Asian cultures. It includes an analysis of how these perspectives affect the way in which we view ourselves and others.

As a lanky 19-year-old, Giannis Antetokounmpo entered the NBA. He didn’t speak English very well, had never lived alone, and had no idea where Milwaukee was on a map. After eight seasons, The Greek Freak has become an NBA champion, a two-time MVP, and one of the most recognizable basketball players on the world. When Antetokounmpo was selected by the Milwaukee Bucks, no one knew what he would become.

But, as his career has progressed, one comparison stands out above all others: Giannis Antetokounmpo is the Shaquille O’Neal of today.

Shaq was one of the NBA’s most physically dominating players.

Shaquille O’Neal was 7-foot-1 and 300 pounds as a rookie in the 1992-93 season. He was a powerful, fast, and agile athlete who could dominate with his strength, speed, and agility. He would have been a blur if he hadn’t been so ridiculously large.

Shaq gained 30 pounds (at the very least) and became unguardable in the post due to his bulk and strength rather than his quickness and agility. It didn’t matter in the end since O’Neal would have ruled the league anyway, but his ability to just overwhelm other players down low with sheer force became his trademark style.

On 58.2 percent shooting, the Hall of Famer averaged 23.7 points, 10.9 rebounds, and 2.3 blocks in his career. But that statistic doesn’t do his dominance credit. Shaq averaged more than 30 points per game and more than 13 rebounds in three different seasons during his prime.

Even in his latter years, when he moved about the league and played for five different clubs in four seasons, his field goal percentage never dropped below 55.7 percent.

Antetokounmpo is O’Neal’s inevitable successor.

Giannis Antetokounmpo mean mugs up the floor after a dunk against the Phoenix Suns in the 2021 NBA Finals.

Giannis Antetokounmpo mean mugs up the floor after a dunk against the Phoenix Suns in the 2021 NBA Finals. The Milwaukee Bucks’ Giannis Antetokounmpo reacts after dunking against the Phoenix Suns. | Getty Images/Jonathan Daniel

Shaq would have stayed closer to his rookie season size if he had played in the NBA in 2021. In today’s league, plodding, post-oriented big guys are out of style. He would have been just as effective now as he was then, although in a different manner.

Take, for example, Giannis Antetokounmpo’s current dominance in the NBA.

The Finals MVP from last season has the same devastating, overwhelming strength that O’Neal had in the early 2000s. In the paint, both players have a long history of dominance. In reality, Giannis’ numbers in the restricted area, like Shaq’s, have been among the best in the NBA in recent seasons.

A quick examination of their stat lines reveals something strange:

Season stats for O’Neal, who is 26 years old, include 26.3 points, 10.7 rebounds, 1.7 blocks, and 57.6% shooting.

Antetokounmpo has 28.1 points, 11.0 rebounds, 1.2 blocks, and a 56.9% shooting percentage in his 26th season.

On the Neat & Unfiltered podcast (h/t, former NBA player Kenyon Martin said:

“This is Shaquille O’Neal in the year 2021. The dominance, the drive, and the sheer power with which he plays.”

On Giannis Antetokounmpo, Kenyon Martin

Antetokounmpo is already establishing himself as a legend. Hgh0HZPs

At the age of 26, Giannis won his first title. At the age of 27, O’Neal won his first of three consecutive championships with the Los Angeles Lakers. Antetokounmpo is on his path to become the best player in NBA history, surpassing Shaq.

On ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith Show, even The Big Aristotle acknowledged that the five-time All-NBA player is the new “Superman”:

“I’ve never handed up my name before, but I’m going to give it to him now. He’s the new Superman, and he’s a force to be reckoned with.

“I didn’t make any 3-pointers, either, but he’s dominating, which I enjoy. In the paint, he’s unstoppable. You’re going to the hole with it. You’re hurling it down. You’re not doing any flip shots. …

“Keep your huge ass on the inside and continue to dominate as you have been. So I’m declaring myself Superman and handing over to the ‘Greek Freak.’

Shaquille O’Neal on Giannis’ “Superman” moniker

To put it another way, greatness acknowledges greatness.

Basketball-Reference provided all statistics.

Giannis Antetokounmpo slammed the New York Knicks in public in 2015, then backed it up the next night: ‘They’ve already lost 15 (straight) games, and tomorrow will be 16.’

Edward Said’s Orientalism is a book that examines how Westerners view the East and its people. The main arguments of the book are discussed in this blog post. Reference: edward said orientalism main arguments.

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