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LSU women’s basketball player Angel Reese is enjoying a heck of a run over the last few weeks. She’s an athlete that most casual sports fans probably had no clue about until around two weeks ago. But that’s enough for LSU legend Shaquille O’Neal to declare she’s the GOAT over Joe Burrow.
In a scorching hot take delivered on The Big Pod, Shaq effusively praised the previously little-known hooper.
“She’s probably the greatest athlete to come out of LSU sports. You heard it here first. Man and female,” Shaq said. But he didn’t stop there.
“She delivered that package. A lot of us got the package and we still got that package in our truck… Joe Burrow got it done a few years ago, but she’s way more athletic than he is,” he concluded.
Look, it’s easy to become a prisoner of the moment. As humans, we often overvalue what we saw most recently. Angel Reese is riding high as her 15 minutes of fame turns into 30 minutes.
But what are we even doing here?
Let’s start with his main argument: she won a championship. Shaq excludes himself because LSU did not win a title during his tenure.
Fine, let’s roll with that. I’m not going to list all of the championship athletes in LSU history, because there are a lot, but that criteria is borderline insane.
But let’s also stop pretending that a women’s basketball national championship means as much to a school as a football national championship or a men’s basketball national championship.
It doesn’t. Anyone who argues it does is either stupid or lying.
By that metric alone, Joe Burrow smokes Reese because he led LSU to a football National Championship victory. Oh, and he won the Heisman Trophy, too.
Angel Reese did not even win Player of the Year. That award went to Caitlin Clark of Iowa.
Shaq specifically disrespects Joe Burrow to praise Angel Reese
But Shaq takes it a step further and says that she’s “way more athletic than Joe Burrow.”
OK, by what metric? I can guarantee you that Joe Burrow can run faster and jump higher than she can. He’s also assuredly stronger.
By the way, Angel Reese looks big compared to the women she plays against. She and Joe Burrow are the same height. He also has about 50 pounds on her.
And, I can guarantee you that Burrow would dominate her in her own sport. He averaged 19 points per game as a senior in high school and has said he could play in the NBA. His high school coach said he easily could have gotten a basketball scholarship if he wanted to go that route.
In fact, if Burrow decided — like many men these days — that he wanted to be a woman, he’d probably be the best player in the entire WNBA.
I get it. We’re in a place societally where we have to pretend things are different than they are. People argue that Serena Williams is the greatest tennis player of all-time.
I can’t tell you the number of arguments I got into at ESPN when I would say, “Yes, she’s the best female tennis player of all-time.”
“Not FEMALE,” they would angrily yell. “The best EVER.”
The reason we put female in front of it is because that’s who she competed against.
In the 1970s, the UCLA Bruins had multiple undefeated National Championship seasons in basketball. They were the greatest college basketball team ever. Not the greatest basketball team ever. Why?
Because they played against other colleges. Does anyone think that team would have won the NBA Championship?
That they would have beaten the Wilt Chamberlin and Jerry West-led Lakers in 1972? Of course not. Think they were better than Michael Jordan’s 90s Bulls teams? Please.
The only way to stake a claim as the best is if you’re playing against the best competition. If you’re not, you’re eliminated from the conversation. Period.
Angel Reese is an excellent women’s basketball player. But she couldn’t make the LSU men’s team. And that team didn’t even make the men’s NCAA Tournament.
There’s a reason that men — at least in the past — are not allowed to play on women’s teams. By the way, no such rule exists for men’s sports. If a woman is good enough for a men’s team, she’s allowed to compete.
Shaq is clearly delivering a hot take and here we are talking about it. Mission accomplished.
But the take is insane. Let’s not pretend it isn’t.
Follow Dan Zaksheske on Twitter: @RealDanZak