Shaquille O’Neal says that he was actually intimidated by Knicks legend Patrick Ewing before they played each other, but he played himself out of it.
Ewing was one of the most legendary centers in NCAA tournament history during his college career. He led Georgetown to 2 straight national championship games, winning the tournament for them in 1984.
He’d already become a household name when he was drafted by the Knicks with the no. 1 pick in 1985. This helped him sign a 10-year, $31 million deal that would be the largest at the time.
Given the rabid following that college basketball had even then, Shaq became a fan of the big man early on. Later on, he would try to emulate Ewing’s post moves and even add some range to his game for that purpose.
Ultimately, Shaq is a consensus top-3 big man of all time and has far outlasted Ewing as a global icon. This doesn’t mean, however, that the Big Aristotle has lost any respect for the Georgetown Hoya.
Shaquille O’Neal talks about the difference between watching Patrick Ewing on TV vs playing him
Tyler Herro hopped onto the Big Podcast with Shaq recently. The Lakers legend isn’t a particularly great interviewer – too many of his questions tend to be long-winding and his anecdotes can drag on. But that’s also a quality that can make his podcast appearances fun.
We saw a bit of that as Tyler was giving guarded answers to some really interesting questions from Nischelle Turner. Herro was answering a question about players who looked mortal in person while looking otherworldly on TV.
But he didn’t want to name any names, despite some cajoling by the podcast crew. It fell to Shaq to open up and spruce up the conversation, and the Lakers legend did it with aplomb:
“My name was Patrick Ewing, of course. No disrespect, he’s a great player. But when I was in high school, I was like ‘Man, he’s crazy.'”
“But then when he went to that fadeaway and I was real close to that, I was like ‘Ooh!’ And then you know, the next time he went to the same move and I blocked it, I was like ‘Uh oh! He’s not a god anymore!'”