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Shaquille O'Neal Says Bill Russell Was The Nicest Gentleman Ever And The First Legendary Big Man That Was Nice To Him: "Kareem Didn’t Say Much, Wilt Didn’t Say Much. And Then I Met Mr. Russell. There Was A Hug, And Sit Down."

Shaquille O'Neal Reveals What He Learned From Bill Russell: "These Conversations Taught Me To Be Mentally Strong, Never To Complain And To Not Be A Cry Baby With Everything At My Disposal.”

The NBA may have become a shooting and spacing-oriented league revolving around elite play by guards, but it was once ruled by the big men. The legendary Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain were statistical marvels, while Kareem Abdul-Jabbar set many records of his own. Shaquille O'Neal was arguably the last great big man, and his dominance for 3 seasons with the Lakers cannot be compared to anyone else. 

With Bill Russell's recent passing, a lot of stories have been told about the way he interacted with those that came after him. He famously roasted Michael Jordan and had a wholesome message for Shaq's former teammate Kobe Bryant. And now O'Neal has revealed on the Rich Eisen Show what interacting with the Celtics legend was like for him. 

"Top 2 greatest big men ever. He was the nicest gentleman ever. I learned from him, he made me realize I was a spoiled brat when I was complaining. And what I mean by that is when I first met Bill Russell, nice, jovial. 

"And he would start telling me stories. Stories where I have no idea, couldn't stay in the same hotel as his teammates, people throwing things at ya, death threats, and this and that. And I was like, 'You know what, Imma stop complaining'. Because it's thanks to guys like him... they paved the way for me. They paved the way for me to make a lot of money.

"He was the first legendary big man that was nice to me. Kareem didn’t say much, Wilt didn’t say much. And then I met Mr. Russell. There was a hug, and sit down."

Bill Russell's journey was a story of struggle, sacrifice, and sheer determination to win, an example to everyone that came after him in the league. For a player like Shaquille O'Neal, a big man himself, Russell is the ultimate example. He will likely carry the moments he shared with the legend for the rest of his life.