LeBron James and Shaquille O'Neal are two of the most physically gifted individuals in NBA history. They are bigger and faster and stronger than everybody else in NBA history at their respective positions.
They make it look easy, even though it's not. James finished an Eastern Conference Finals where he averaged 33.6 points, 11 rebounds, and 3.9 assists while shooting 58.7 percent True Shooting against the best defense in the NBA. And he did that while banging with Kevin Garnett on switches, slowing down Paul Pierce in isolation, and helping on the unpredictable Rajon Rondo.
The series against Boston is reminiscent of another great seven-game Conference Finals from 10 years before: the Los Angeles Lakers vs. the Sacramento Kings. It was arguably Shaq's greatest moment.Dealing with numerous minor injuries and with his team down 3-2 to Sacramento, Shaq delivered menacing dunks, an alpha attitude and- yeah, check this out- excellent free throw shooting. He told the team to give the ball to him and let him set the tone for game six, and he did just that. Overall, he averaged 38 points, 15 rebounds and 3 blocks per game while hitting 75 percent of his free throws in the two victories.
Return to 2012. Dealing with enormous pressure and with his team down 3-2 to Boston, James delivered confident dagger jump shots, an alpha attitude, and big-man rebounding. He set the tone with a legendary game six performance. Overall, he averaged 38 points, 13.5 rebounds, and 3.5 assists while shooting 59.5 percent from the field in the two victories.
They're both out-of-normal-NBA-court-dimensions stars, but dealing with adversity took more than being a physical specimen; it took brains and heart. James understood that to beat Boston, his team needed Shaq-like aggression from him. If he had failed, so be it, but at least he would have went down trying.
Shaq went on to win his third straight Finals MVP in 2002; perhaps LeBron wins his first this year. OKC is a powerful team, but a King-Mode LeBron- like a Superman-Mode Shaq- can overcome anything.