Skip to main content

Shaquille O'Neal Thanks Childhood Rival For Helping Him Become The Player He Is: "He Was A White Guy; He Loved Larry Bird, I Loved Magic... We Used To Fight."

Shaquille O'Neal Thanks Childhood Rival For Helping Him Become The Player He Is: "He Was A White Guy; He Loved Larry Bird, I Loved Magic... We Used To Fight."

There is no doubt that Shaquille O'Neal is one of the greatest players of all time. Shaq was a true beast and is often considered the most dominant player in the history of the league. And for his incredible accomplishments, Shaq was named part of the NBA's 75 greatest players of all time.

Shaquille O'Neal was truly moved over being named on the list. During an appearance on a special edition of Inside The NBA on TNT during the NBA All-Star Game, Shaquille O'Neal delivered an emotional speech about making the NBA 75 list. And there was one part of that speech that caught the attention of a lot of fans.

During the speech, Shaquille O'Neal tried to thank anyone and everyone that had an impact on his life and his career. 

In one part of the speech, he noted how his father didn't want him to be a flashy player, and play more like a prototypical big man. But Shaq was captivated by Magic Johnson and used that flair against his childhood rival who was a fan of Larry Bird, and the two always pushed each other when they played together when they were young players in Germany (1:51 mark).

“I got in trouble in high school for trying to be like Dr. J. and my father said, ‘No, I need you to be a big man. So here comes another big man, and he’s 6-foot-9, flashy, hip-hop and has style: Magic Johnson. I wanted to be like Magic Johnson. I want to thank another guy: Mitch Riles. We played in Germany together [as kids] and he was a white guy; he loved [Larry] Bird, I loved Magic, and we used to have seven-game series every day. We used to fight.”

Shaquille O'Neal went on to have an incredible career in the NBA. He won 4 NBA championships and was the last player in the NBA to win 3 consecutive NBA championships and Finals MPV. Shaq's legacy will never be surpassed in the NBA, and he will be remembered as one of the all-time greats.

Shaq has continued his career in the NBA, now serving as an analyst on Inside The NBA. Shaq has been one of the highlights of the show and has garnered a lot of fan interest in the show thanks to his hilarious, brazen, and insightful commentary on today's NBA.