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Shaquille O'Neal Tells Patrick Ewing He Was His Favorite Player: "I Don’t Think You Know This, But I Wore Number 33 In High School And College Because Of You.”

Patrick Ewing On Why Team USA Is Struggling In The Olympics: "The Rest Of The World Caught Up"

There's no shame in admitting that someone else inspired you to be who you are today. Whether if it was one of your fathers, a musician, or the athlete you grew up idolizing.

Even NBA players grew up trying to emulate someone else, and Shaquille O'Neal isn't the exception to that rule.

That's why he admitted that Patrick Ewing was his favorite player and the reason why he wore number 33:

“Pat, I know me and you had some tough battles, but you were always my favorite player. I don’t think you know this, but I wore number 33 in high school and college because of you," Shaq told the Knicks legend on 'The Big Podcast With Shaq'

Ewing was humbled by his words and went on to reminiscence the era they played in, talking about how much the game has changed nowadays and how different - not better or worse - big men are in today's basketball:

“The league has definitely changed. In our eras, bigs were in the blocks. Dunking, face-up, hook shots. In this era, most bigs are at the 3-point line, or they’re in the pick-and-roll and catching lobs. So things definitely have changed. You and I played in a different era," Ewing said.

There's no doubt that the league has come a long way. Now, rules and schemes favor shooters and the heavy-footed, hard-nosed big man is a somewhat dying breed.

Then again, the New York Knicks have recently clinched a playoff berth by playing some old-school basketball, and Ewing gave coach Thibs his flowers for the way he's turned around the franchise:

“I think they are back. I think Tom Thibodeau’s done an outstanding job with them and Julius Randle," he said.

Ewing could never win a ring during his time in the league but he's still considered one of the greatest players of all time. Who knows? Maybe Julius Randle will give The Big Apple the trophy they've been waiting for for so long, with Pat rooting for them at home.