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Sports Illustrated
Sports Illustrated
Karl Rasmussen

Shaquille O’Neal Declares Nikola Jokic the NBA’s Best Big Man ‘By Far’

The Nuggets are off to a strong start to the new season as they look to defend their title after winning their first championship in franchise history

Ahead of their In-Season Tournament matchup against the Clippers, Shaquille O’Neal and the rest of the TNT booth was discussing the play of reigning Finals MVP Nikola Jokic

O’Neal had some major praise for Jokic, boldly declaring him the best big man in the NBA.

“If you don’t double this dude, that’s Slovakian coleslaw, all day,” O’Neal said, while accidentally mistaking Jokic’s native Serbia for Slovakia.

“Listen. Best big man in the league, by far,” said O’Neal, before repeating himself.

When Joel Embiid’s name was floated by Kenny Smith, O’Neal doubled down on his take, indicating that Jokic’s championship ring has him firmly ahead of the 76ers’ center and the ’22-‘23 MVP.

“By far,” he reiterated. “You heard what I said. By far. He’s a champion.”

This season, Jokic is averaging 29.8 points, 13.7 rebounds, and 8.3 assists while shooting at a 60.6% clip from the field. He’s the only player in the league who ranks in the top 10 in every one of those statistical categories. 

While Embiid and Philadelphia are off to a strong start amid the departure of James Harden, O’Neal thinks the 29-year-old has a bit more work to do if he wants to catch Jokic as the league’s most dominant big. 

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