With Shaq acting as host for 2009 NBA All-Star, Suns.com thought it would be appropriate for some if his guests – other All-Stars from around the league – to reflect on their favorite memories of the Big Cactus. Let’s hear what they had to say:
Detroit’s Chauncey Billups: “What I always think about him is the way he used to break those rims and bring the whole rim down. Obviously, he’s had much better moments than one play with all the championships he’s won. What he’s meant to the game… he’s been a pillar in the NBA. Other than Jordan, Shaq is that guy. I could never forget the way he brought those rims down. That was crazy.”
Suns.com: “Is he the most dominant player of your era?”
Billups: “Without a doubt.”
San Antonio’s Tim Duncan: “The one that stands out to me is the very first time I played against him with USA Basketball and seeing how big he was in person and seeing how well he moved in person. I think that was overwhelming to me at the time.”
Dallas’ Dirk Nowitzki: “His personality. I’ve been blessed to be around him in the locker room when he was still with the Lakers. He always likes to play jokes and joke around with guys. That’s why he’s the best. I remember early in my career he didn’t like that Nellie (Don Nelson) was intentionally fouling him and he called Nellie and his coaches ‘clown-coaches.’ So for the next game Nellie and Del (Harris) put on clown noses and went over and shook his hand with clown noses on.”
Orlando’s Rashard Lewis: “That’s one thing; he’s got a good personality off the court. He’s a fun guy in the locker room. I think one thing that people don’t remember about him is when he played with the Lakers. I also remember him when he played with the Magic, because I grew up in Houston, TX, and he took them to the Finals against the Rockets. Everywhere he’s been he’s at least took them to the Finals or won an NBA Championship.
“When he played with the Lakers, he and Kobe Bryant basically shocked the world. They were probably the best basketball team ever, besides the Chicago Bulls. They were probably second-best. By far, they were the best duo (O’Neal and Bryant) that’s ever been created in the NBA.
“He jokes all the time on the court. I remember the first time I played against him, when he was a part of the Lakers and I was in Seattle, I went up to get a rebound and he just came out of nowhere and took the ball from like three people and just dunked and then kind of looked at everybody. You know he likes to run back down the court with his little strut. It lets you know that he’s an amazing player but he’s a fun player at the same time.”
Portland’s Brandon Roy: “I remember this year he was talking to me at the free throw line. And I looked like, ‘Is Shaq talking to me?’ He was like, ‘Roy!’ He said my name and said, ‘Yeah, I’m talking to you.’ He was asking me what I thought about our team and what I thought about Greg (Oden). I was really like, ‘Are you talking to me?’ It was a dead moment because someone had some blood so he was just bringing up a conversation. It was more about that he was talking to me and knew my name.
“That was special to me because I was a huge Shaq fan growing up. When he was with Orlando and then when he went to the Lakers, I was a huge Shaq guy. I remember when Kobe threw him that lob and he dunked it and got into that stance. I was like, ‘Man. I’m standing next to him now.’ That was cool for me.
“So if this year is his last All-Star Game, for me to be able to be a part of it, that’s history. He’s one of the greatest players in the league. When they show him at his last All-Star appearance, I’ll be there smiling.”
New Orleans’ David West: “Shaq was kind of like ‘my moment of clarity’ so to speak that I was in the NBA. I was a rookie and I was playing the Lakers in New Orleans and I was standing between him and Kobe and Karl Malone was on the other block. That was probably one of the most nervous spots I’ve ever been in on the basketball court. Standing next to Shaq, standing next to Kobe and staring at Karl Malone in the face… in the NBA.
“Another time, he was playing for the Heat and it was my third year in the league and we were down in Miami and he was hurt and I had a chance to win the game down there and I just looked at him before the game and he said, ‘I bet you don’t make the shot.’ That’s what he said to me and we really don’t know each other. But I was like, ‘All right, just wait.’ But I had a chance to win the game and I missed the shot. I was like, ‘Wow. It was crazy that he knew that I was going to get the shot somehow.’”
New Jersey’s Devin Harris: “He was on one of my favorite teams: the Lakers team that won the championship. My favorite moment was the lob he caught because Portland had that big fourth quarter and they came back. That was special. I was going crazy. He’s been so good for so long and he has such a great personality off the court. I’m hoping to spend a little bit more time with him as the weekend continues.
“I actually remember one time when he gave me the hardest flagrant foul. It was like running into a brick wall. And it was like he picked me up with his finger. He just lifted me up with ease.”
Suns.com: “Do you think he’s really only 320 lbs.?
Harris: “I’ll say he’s slimmer than that. He’s 319.”
Atlanta’s Joe Johnson: “He’s a great guy. My first All-Star appearance in Vegas he was out there break dancing against Dwight (Howard) and LeBron (James). It was classic. He keeps everybody loose and he’s so fun. He and Dwight are the biggest clowns in the league.
“Shaq has a great personality. He is always talking. Just little things. When I come off pick-and-rolls and he gets switched to me he’ll say how he has ‘lockdown defense’ and things like that. Stuff like, ‘You’re not going to be able to do any of that me! You can’t score on me!’ It’s all fun and games and it’s always fun to compete against him.”