Basketball Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal recently compared University of Colorado head coach Deion Sanders to his former longtime courtside leader Phil Jackson.
In addition to claiming the first-year Buffaloes coach is already the best coach in college football, Shaq said that Sanders did something during Colorado’s most recent win that reminded him of Jackson. The 19th-ranked Buffaloes defeated in-state rival Colorado State 43-35 in double-overtime on Saturday after trailing 28-17 in the fourth quarter.
“When they were down (11), there was a camera that panned to Deion’s face, and it reminded me of Phil Jackson. And I’ve always said, if the general doesn’t panic, the troops don’t panic,” O’Neal said, per TMZ Sports.
One of the most dominant and unstoppable big men in NBA history, Shaq played his prime years in the Association (1996-2004) with the Los Angeles Lakers, five seasons of which were spent with Jackson as his head coach. O’Neal and Kobe Bryant formed one of the best duos in league history during the stretch, and with the legendary Jackson running the famous triangle offense for many years, the Lakers won three straight championships from 1999-2002.
O’Neal won a fourth NBA title with the Miami Heat in 2006, but Bryant and Jackson won two more with Los Angeles in 2009 and 2010. Jackson also picked up a pair of three-peats with Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen and the Chicago Bulls from 1990-93 and 1995-98.
“I know exactly what the (Colorado players) are going through because when you are standing in front of someone that has an impressive resume, and you’re trying to get to the level he get to, everything you say is golden. I felt that way when Phil Jackson first came to the Lakers,” O’Neal said. “Before (Jackson) got there, me and Kobe, we got swept all the time. But when he came there and stepped in the locker room and we saw he didn’t panic, so it taught us not to panic. We know that this guy knows what he’s talking about.”
While any talk of Sanders being the best coach in college football,or on the same level as Jackson may be a bit premature, the turnaround and excitement that the Pro Football Hall of Famer has brought to Boulder is obvious.