Robert Horry says Hakeem Olajuwon was better than Shaquille O’Neal, but Shaq was more dominant

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Robert Horry won seven championships in the NBA. Not coincidentally, he played with three of the greatest big men in NBA history. His first two titles came alongside Hakeem Olajuwon with the Houston Rockets. Then he won three in a row playing with Shaquille O’Neal for the Los Angeles Lakers. Last but not least, he picked up two more alongside Tim Duncan on the San Antonio Spurs. 

For almost three decades, one of these three centers was the NBA’s preeminent big man. That has led to quite a bit of debate, and The Ringer’s Ryen Russillo reignited that debate by asking Horry who was better between O’Neal and Olajuwon. Horry didn’t hesitate. “Hakeem was better,” Horry said. “Shaq was more dominant, but Hakeem was better.”

“I think as far as his talent, Dream had more talent. Shaq had handles, but Dream had a little bit better handles. Dream could shoot free throws. We all know about Shaq’s free throws. He had a fadeaway. Shaq was just, just his brute strength, just dunk on you and just, you know, get you out of the way. I think that is the difference. Dream had a little bit of strength, he could go pound for pound, because think about it, he went up against Patrick Ewing, strong guy, David Robinson, strong guy. That’s what I mean, Shaq was more dominant. 

Dream wasn’t gonna dunk on you, he was gonna shake you out of your pants and then shoot a fadeaway. Or he might dunk on you, but it’s that difference that separates them. Shaq, when he was in Orlando he had a little bit more finesse, but as he got older, he got bigger and stronger and he just knew what to do. I’m just gonna drop step you, dunk on you, hit you with a little jump hook. He was dominant because of his strength and power, but Dream was a little bit better because of his finesse and power.”

Horry will certainly catch some flak for this take among Laker fans. He works as a Lakers television analyst for Spectrum SportsNet, so it was somewhat surprising to see him take Houston’s big man over the hometown hero. In truth, though, there is no wrong answer. Put a good enough roster around either Shaq or Olajuwon and you’re going to win titles. 

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