Shaq, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar publicly quash their beef
Shaquille O’Neal and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar publicly quashed their beef on Tuesday night amid a special night in the NBA.
Kareem was in attendance at Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles as LeBron James broke his record of 38,387 career points scored. Abdul-Jabbar was part of the ceremonies during and after the game as James broke his record. The former Los Angeles Lakers legend even conducted an interview with TNT after the game.
During his interview, Kareem fielded questions from TNT’s analyst. Then as the interview was concluding, Abdul-Jabbar made a point to address O’Neal.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Shaq showing love for one another 💜💛#LakeShow pic.twitter.com/maBkBrv1dw
— 𝐓𝐚𝐥𝐤𝐢𝐧' 𝐍𝐁𝐀 (@_Talkin_NBA) February 8, 2023
“I want to tell Shaq … this evening because he felt I was shaming you or ignoring you. That would never be the case. You showed them what you were all about the way you crushed all the centers in the league for a couple of years there. I’m on your side, Shaq. Don’t ever let anybody tell you anything different,” Abdul-Jabbar said to him.
O’Neal then responded.
“Hey listen, you not speaking to me was the best thing to happen to my career because all I wanted to do was impress you sir,” Shaq said. “I will never ever have beef with the great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. You will never have to worry about that.”
Then after the interview ended, O’Neal explained to viewers the history behind his relationship with Abdul-Jabbar.
“I’m not a sensitive guy, but he would never look at me, would never talk to me. So I thought he didn’t like me,” O’Neal said of his first impressions of Kareem.
Shaq said that he used the perceived slight from Kareem as motivation to become great.
Apparently Abdul-Jabbar questioned O’Neal’s greatness by saying great players shouldn’t get swept in the playoffs. O’Neal’s Orlando Magic had been swept in the first round of the NBA playoffs in 1994, and then in the NBA Finals in 1995 and 1996. O’Neal’s Lakers were swept by Utah in the 1998 conference finals and by San Antonio in the second round in 1999.
O’Neal went on to win three straight championships with the Lakers from 2000-2002 while teaming with Kobe Bryant. He won a fourth championship in 2006 with the Miami Heat.
At some point in his career, O’Neal had finally earned Kareem’s respect. Shaq explained on TNT Tuesday that Kareem pulled him aside to set matters straight.
“About four years ago, he pulled me to the side and said, ‘I read an article where you said I don’t like you. That’s not true; I love you.’ And he gave me a big hug. And ever since then, we’ve been very close,” O’Neal explained Tuesday night.
Not only did Kareem pass the torch to LeBron on Tuesday night, but he also made clear on national TV that all is good between him and one of the other best big men of all time.