On a recent NBA TV segment focused on Shaquille O’Neal, the big man — looking bigger than ever — was asked by a bunch of NBA All-Stars about some of his moves and secrets during his playing days. Grant Hill, Dennis Scott, Brent Barry and other NBA elites queried the Big Aristotle about the guys that gave him the most trouble (Shaq said little guys like Karl Malone bothered him most), what it was like to play in the triangle offense, and his general philosophy — like why he imitated his pal Rony Seikaly’s knees-up style on dunks.
But it was Isiah Thomas, the Detroit Pistons legend, who told the best Shaq story — or at least the funniest — on the eve of Shaq’s 2016 induction into the NBA Hall of Fame. Thomas told how when Shaq first came into the league, Thomas was supposed to drop for the double team when the ball went into Shaq. The first time Thomas’ man threw the ball into the post Thomas turned to help, only to realize “oh no, there’s no one guardin’ Shaq.” Actually Shaq’s defender (Thomas thinks it was John Salley) was on him — but since he was behind Shaq he was totally eclipsed by Shaq’s giant frame. It was a story about that time Shaquille O’Neal made a 6’11” NBA player completely disappear. Shaq was inducted into the Hall of Fame this week, having scored 28,596 points and won four NBA championships. He disappeared more guys than a Latin American dictator along the way.