In a move that should surprise no one, Phil Jackson was known as the master of whack-a-mole tactics. He’s been accused of being dirty for years; he’s always designed his teams to beat opponents with hard fouls and unorthodox game plans. And before it became synonymous with Shaq, “Hack-a-Shaq” was actually an old school strategy employed by basketball coaches all over the country: take away your opponent’s best player so they have nothing left on offense.,

The “hack a shaq rule” is a rule that was in place for many years before it became infamous. Phil Jackson gave Shaquille O’Neal the recipe for handling the strategy before it became such a big deal.

Phil Jackson Gave Shaquille O'Neal the Recipe for Handling 'Hack-a-Shaq' Before it Became Infamous

Former Los Angeles Lakers head coach Phil Jackson, like the rest of the NBA, recognized Shaquille O’Neal’s overwhelming domination. He was also aware of the tactics used by opposition teams to get under The Diesel’s skin.

The “Hack-a-Shaq” technique became a true NBA standard, even if it was done in a comical manner at times. Teams grew more aggressive and sent O’Neal to the free-throw line rather than allowing him to impose his will in the paint, which proved more difficult for Superman than dominating men in the low post. Opponents might also wear on Shaq throughout the course of a game with this strategy.

In November 1999, Jackson addressed this issue. He not only stood up for O’Neal, but he also taught him the sole way to defeat the Hack-a-Shaq.

Because of Shaquille O’Neal’s terrible free-throw shooting, his opponents became more violent with him.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-4 azJ7gk3A

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Many big guys have been terrified by Shaquille O’Neal’s strength throughout the years. The Diesel, on the other hand, was probably impotent whenever he was relegated to the charity stripe.

Throughout his career, Phil Jackson witnessed O’Neal’s free-throw form shift a lot. None of the attempts were very effective, and he refused to shoot underhandedly out of pride. During his playing career, Shaq averaged 9.3 free throws per game and is fourth all-time in free throw attempts. He only made 52.7 percent of his attempts, and he had many seasons when he shot under 50% from the line.

Jackson was irritated by O’Neal’s weak free-throw shooting stroke, which became a cause of contention for then-Dallas Mavericks head coach Don Nelson.

During a game between the Mavs and the Lakers on Nov. 7, 1999, Nelson directed his players to foul Shaq as much as possible, according to the New York Times. O’Neal made 10 of 23 free throws. The plan was successful.

Jackson defended his star center, claiming Nelson had a penchant for breaking the rules. When the two teams met again two nights later, the Mavericks’ head coach gave his players the identical instructions. Shaq had an even worse night, shooting 3-of-14 from the charity stripe. According to Nelson, O’Neal also shattered a locker room television.

Jackson, for one, became more public in his support for Shaq. Even yet, he realized O’Neal had to be true to himself if he was going to beat Hack-a-Shaq. Actually, the Zen Master said this prior to the official commencement of Hack-a-Shaq.

Shaq was ordered by Phil Jackson to keep his head down.

Former Los Angeles Lakers head coach Phil Jackson talks with Shaquille O'Neal

Former Los Angeles Lakers head coach Phil Jackson talks with Shaquille O'Neal During an NBA game against the Chicago Bulls in the early 2000s, former Los Angeles Lakers head coach Phil Jackson chats with Shaquille O’Neal | Matt A. Brown/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Although Don Nelson is credited with the most of the credit for Hack-a-Shaq, Jackson predicted the storm before the Lakers ever faced the Mavericks.

On November 6, 1999, the Los Angeles Lakers took on the Portland Trail Blazers in Portland. The Blazers put a lot of pressure on O’Neal, forcing him to go to the free-throw line 11 times and almost causing a confrontation. In the period of five minutes, the Diesel earned two technical fouls and was ejected.

After the game, Jackson slammed the officials, claiming it was unfair for them to demonize Shaq given the toll his body had suffered during the game. The Hall of Fame head coach, on the other hand, made no excuses for O’Neal’s bad behavior (h/t LA Times).

“After the game, I told him how disappointed I was that he couldn’t control himself throughout the game.” He’s the one who has to deal with it.”

Phil Jackson (Phil Jackson) (1999)

When Shaq was removed, the Lakers were down by only seven points, according to Jackson. They lost by 15 points in the end.

Phil’s warning is instructive. He showed O’Neal that he’d fight for him, but he also told The Diesel to concentrate on the things he could control.

Authentic or not, O’Neal and the rest of the Lakers frequently found meaning in Jackson’s remarks. When the Lakers faced the Blazers in the Western Conference Finals in 1999-00, the Zen Master inspired his team in a unique way.

Similarly, although Phil’s remarks couldn’t fix Shaq’s problems on the court, The Diesel appeared to do a better job of remaining in his own head and hitting foul shots in the most crucial of situations. This was never more evident than in the Western Conference Finals in 2002.

In the 2002 Western Conference Finals, O’Neal made the Kings pay for Hack-a-Shaq.

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Phil Jackson continued to request that referees blow the whistle for his star center as the years passed. In the 2002 Western Conference Finals, the unwavering support paid off.

Before the series, the Sacramento Kings made it clear that they planned to foul O’Neal. Following Game 2, Jackson said (h/t ESPN) that Shaq was penalized for false offensive fouls while not being given the benefit of the doubt on the opposite end.

Jackson’s comments appeared to fall on deaf ears at first. In a Game 3 triumph, the Kings attempted 35 free throws, while the Lakers only attempted 15 foul shots. The pendulum, on the other hand, was about to swing the opposite way.

In Game 4, O’Neal shot 9-for-13 from the line to help the Lakers overcome a 20-point hole in the first quarter. In the fourth quarter alone, he was flawless on 6-of-6. O’Neal went 13-of-17 from the line in Game 6 after the Kings reclaimed the series lead at home in Game 5. In the final, he shot 11-of-15 as the Purple and Gold won the series.

There is concern regarding the integrity of the referees in that series, as has been argued for almost two decades. Chris Webber, a former All-Star with the Sacramento Kings, once reminded Shaq of this on national television.

Nonetheless, Jackson’s ability to manipulate the officials and instill a sense of calm in O’Neal helped the team prevail. Overcoming Hack-a-Shaq was a never-ending battle, but head coach and star player worked together to succeed.

Basketball Reference provided the statistics.

RELATED: Shaquille O’Neal Intentionally Got Into Foul Trouble in Denver Due to His Inability to Handle the Altitude: ‘I used to be so exhausted that I couldn’t even breathe.’

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Frequently Asked Questions

Who invented the Hack-A-Shaq?

A: Shaq was actually the inventor, who in turn stole it from his college basketball coach John Thompson.

A: In NBA terms, Hack-a-Shaq is the act of fouling an opposing teams center to prevent him from scoring. Its considered a cheap tactic and has been banned for this reason.

What is a Hack-A-Shaq in basketball?

A: The Hack-a-Shaq is a basketball play in which the player or players guarding Shaquille ONeal are instructed to hack into his arms and body, attempting to impede him from scoring.

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