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Sunday, March 3, 2024

Shaquille O'Neal On The First Time He Met Julius Erving: "I Thought I Was Dead"

Shaquille O’Neal was a big admirer of Julius Erving growing up, so when the basketball icon showed up in his room, O’Neal felt he had died.

“So this was in LSU, my junior year,” O’Neal said on The Big Podcast with Shaq. “I know I’m going pro. Coach (Dale) Brown had this thing if you miss class you’re going to have to run… So, I’m in school one day, I had an 8-o-clock class, I was like f*** it, I only got two months I’m not going.”

O’Neal went back to sleep but was awoken by Erving, and he was shocked to see him in front of him.

“I was sleeping and Dr. J was in my room when he put his hand on my chest and he woke me up,” O’Neal continued. “That was my first time physically meeting him. He was in my room and he said, ‘Hey man, Coach Brown said meet him at the track.’ I was like, ‘What?’ And when I looked up, I thought I was dead, bro.”

(starts at 6:50 mark):

As for why Erving showed up at O’Neal’s room, it was to get him to sign with Converse. It was clear that the big man from LSU was destined for big things, but Erving wasn’t able to convince him to sign. O’Neal would eventually agree to a deal with Reebok in 1992.

Shaquille O’Neal And Julius Erving Criticized Today’s Stars For Avoiding The Dunk Contest

Erving is one of the greatest players in NBA history, and he has also gone down as one of the greatest dunkers ever. He won the first-ever dunk contest in the ABA in 1976 and participated in the contest multiple times in the NBA as well. In this episode of the podcast, Erving and O’Neal ripped modern NBA stars for avoiding the dunk contest.

“You won’t get all the top players to be involved in it,” said Erving. “There’s a whole bunch who won’t do it, their egos are not going to allow it. And that’s why you don’t always get the greatest dunkers in the dunk contest, cause it’s about the brand right now. They don’t want to do anything to diminish the brand.”

“They’re afraid of competition,” said O’Neal on modern players. “It’s a shame that our biggest stars are afraid of competition. I started watching the dunk contest because of this man (points to Erving). After he left, Dominique and Mike took over. My thing with that is, they don’t pay homage and show respect. I wouldn’t be able to make $40 million without him.”

Erving makes a good point there and it is a shame how the big names have avoided the dunk contest in recent years. We finally will have a star taking part in the contest this year at least, with Jaylen Brown from the Boston Celtics having signed up for it.

Shaquille O’Neal Didn’t Have A Problem With Julius Erving Leaving Him Out Of His All-Time Top 10 List

Last year, Erving shared his list of the top 10 players of all time, and O’Neal was one of the notable absentees. While the 51-year-old usually takes offense to him being excluded from these lists, O’Neal did not have an issue with Erving leaving him out.

“Hey, man, I got no problem with Dr. J’s list,” said Shaq. “He’s the great Dr. J. He paved the way for all of us. He can say what he wants and nobody should say a damn thing about it…”

The big man then revealed his top 10 list, which went as follows: Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Magic Johnson, himself, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Tim Duncan, Karl Malone, Isiah Thomas, and Steph Curry.

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