Shaquille O’Neal won three straight NBA titles as the Los Angeles Lakers center, a position previously occupied by one of the league’s GOATs, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Yet though Abdul-Jabbar was a presence in Los Angeles during O’Neal’s run, the two had little contact — a fact that O’Neal has said he both regretted and, ultimately, appreciated.
Why did O’Neal appreciate Abdul-Jabbar ignoring him? O’Neal says he used the snub as motivation to prove to his predecessor that he, too, was one of the greats.
Last night as part of the fanfare that came with LeBron James breaking Abdul-Jabbar’s all-time NBA scoring mark, O’Neal and Abdul-Jabbar spoke, with Abdul-Jabbar initiating the conversation and telling Shaq it was never anything personal and that he respected O’Neal and his game.
O’Neal was incredibly humble in his response to the NBA legend who had snubbed him during his time in LA.
Nothing but love between @kaj33 & @SHAQ pic.twitter.com/9rEv7oGoqM— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) February 8, 2023
O’Neal replied by saying he loved Abdul-Jabbar — an affection Abdul-Jabbar returned. O’Neal said: “You not speaking to me was the best thing that ever happened in my career because all I ever wanted to do was impress you, sir… I love you and I will never ever have beef with the great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.”
“Back at you,” Abdul-Jabbar replied. “I love you too.”