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Shaquille O'Neal Accused Karl Malone Of Being A Sellout, But Realized He Made A Mistake: "I Admit I Was A Hypocrite With Karl, A Guy Who I Thought Was A Sellout But Turned Out To Be A Real, Good Person, True To Himself."

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On the surface, Shaquille O'Neal and Karl Malone have a lot in common. They both dominated the NBA for years and both played with the same grit and passion that helped make their careers so successful.

But the relationship between O'Neal and Malone is actually quite complicated.

As O'Neal revealed in his book 'Shaq Talks Back,' he once despised Malone for being a "sellout," as their contrasting personalities clashed initially.

(via Basketball Network)

"Always accused of being a sellout. Like, what brother do you know rides a Harley-Davidson and wears jeans and boots?"

To Shaq, his disdain for Malone was more than about a difference in lifestyles. It was easy to hate on the guy he was competing against every year. It helped drive him to play better against him.

"I can say now I was a hypocrite when it came to how I felt about Karl early in his career. See, like when you're a competitor, in order for me to dominate you, I have to not like you. So I forced myself not to like him because he was on the other team."

It all changed for O'Neal when he got the chance to play with Malone for Team USA in 1996. He saw a different side to him, and it opened up his mind.

"When we played on the Olympic team together in Atlanta, I realized he worked hard, and he was a family man. His kids love him. I told him, "You know, I didn't like you at first. I didn't like you. I thought you were arrogant, you didn't care. But now I see that you're a nice person, I see that you're silly." So I admit I was a hypocrite with Karl, a guy who I thought was a sellout but turned out to be a real, good person, true to himself."

The thing about Malone is that he was always true to himself, and it's what Shaq grew to love about him. Instead of changing his lifestyle to match his fame and fortune, he continued to live how he grew up and never tried to be somebody he was not.

How hard must it be to keep your identity after your life changes to such an extreme?

Good on Malone for staying true to his roots, and kudos to O'Neal for owning up to his mistake and looking inward to dissolve his hate.