Julius Erving and Shaquille O’Neal find themselves on the same page due to one common concern

Indianapolis takes the spotlight in the 2024 NBA All-Star weekend. With multiple contests and events lined up, the majority of eyes are on the NBA All-Star game to be played on February 18. The diminishing attraction of the skill-based contest has pained a lot of old-school hoopers, and Shaquille O’Neal is not an exception.

The reason for the loss of star power in skills challenges has been discussed in an in-depth analysis provided by Julius Erving while talking about today’s generation of NBA superstars.

Julius Erving and Shaquille O’Neal throws shades at current NBA superstars

The Slam Dunk contest this year will take place at Indianapolis on February 17. The contest is held to evaluate a player’s skills but lately, the star players are hesitant to take part in it.

The two best dunkers in NBA history, Julius Erving and Shaquille O’Neal, have shared their views on the decline of the Dunk Contest player participation while speaking on “The Big Podcast” recently.

Shaq said, “They’re scared of competition. Unfortunately, our biggest stars are frightened of competition.” He believes that the star players of this generation disrespect the former legendary dunkers by not participating in the competition.

Referring to Erving, Shaquille O’Neal said, “This man (Dr. J) is the reason I started watching dunk contests. Michael Jordan and Dominique Wilkins took over after he left. Then Vince Carter happened.”

Then the 3-time Championship winner Dr. J said, “Many people refuse to participate because their egos will not permit it.” He explained how the current players are concerned about damaging their brand value since the other participants are not always the best.

The expected participants for the Slam Dunk contest 2024 are defending champion Mac McClung, Celtics All-Star Jaylen Brown, the Miami Heat rookie Jaime Jaquez Jr., and the New York Knicks’ Jacob Toppin.

The 3-point shooting contest between the Warriors legend Steph Curry and the New York Liberty’s Sabrina Ionescu will be held on Saturday, February 17, which will be followed by the Dunk contest.

Shaq’s first meeting with Dr. J

Shaquille O’Neal calls Julius Erving his idol and has stated multiple times how the dunker, after whom the NBA All-Star weekend dunk contest trophy has been named, has inspired him to play basketball.

Shaq said that once he thought he was dead when he saw Dr. J for the first time in his younger days at Louisiana State University (LSU). His coach back then (Dale Brown) used to make students run if they missed classes. He declared for drafting in 1992 and thought of skipping his 8 AM class as there were only 2 months left in the college year.

Sharing his star-struck moment he said, “I was sleeping and Dr. J was in my room when he put his hand on my chest, and he woke me up. That was my first time physically meeting him.” Erving woke him up as his coach had called for him. Seeing his hero, Shaq couldn’t suppress his emotions, “I was like what. And when I looked up, I thought I was dead, bro.”

With the NBA All-Star weekend on the horizon and seeing the lackluster contest line-up, there can hardly be an argument against the legendary dunkers.

SZ Desk

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