Was Shaq a dirty player? Maybe not, but you’d have a hard time convincing the endless string of 7-foot oafs that littered NBA rosters in the 90s and 2000s just so they could use up six more fouls on Shaquille O’Neal. Opponents would hack, elbow, and even bear hug Shaq to stop him from getting to the rim, but that’s because if they didn’t, they were getting a fat Shaq elbow right to the solar plexus as he plowed into and over them and dunked on their corpse.
Nobody was as impossible to ref as prime Shaq, and when he didn’t get the call, he retaliated to protect himself, racking up 10 ejections, 171 technical fouls, and 46 flagrant fouls in his day. Shaq was impossible.