“What the great Bill Russell said meant a lot,” said O’Neal…. “He said he never had any rivals. He said he talked to Mr. Chamberlain at least once a week before he passed away, and I actually thought they hated each other, but he told me that wasn’t the case at all. It was something I had to hear from a guy like that. My mother and father also called me and told me to shake Kobe’s hand and that we were making a big deal about nothing. And even though I do act crazy sometimes, I do listen.”
I’ve always liked the Big Aristotle as a person, though not as a basketball player. (The non-calls on his multitude of offensive fouls are as bad as those on MJ’s travelling.) And insasmuch as NBA stars are role models for many boys, seeing a man who was so badly and publicly disrespected put that behind him with a handshake and a smile is probably more meaningful than it would be in a more rational world.
Kobe Bryant may be a great basketball player and a smart guy, but he’s a terrible teammate and a shady individual. Here’s hoping he can learn something about character from his ex-teammate. Shaq is a physical giant who has his money and his rings, but he’s never been bigger than he was on the pre-game court that day.