David Beckham and Shaquille O’Neal were once the top-2 highest-earning athletes in the world, and the latter didn’t know who the former was, at all.
Shaquille O’Neal is the type of person who most of the time would say things that later if he himself would listen to it and wonder if he really said that in full consciousness.
The Lakers legend is one of the greatest basketball players of all time and arguably the most dominant player in the history of the game. Irrespective of the fact he was a global celebrity himself, he should ideally know the big-name players in other sports as well.
But when Shaq was the number 2 highest-paid athlete in the world, he never bothered about knowing who the number 1 was until he came #2 in his pursuit of being the top paid athlete across sports, or so he says.
The Big Aristotle used to be so much under a rock or was too involved in just basketball day in and day out to know who was the highest-earning athlete in the most famous sport of the world. We are talking about David Beckham.
🏅 UEFA President’s Award 2018
🇬🇧 David Beckham 👏 pic.twitter.com/p9aYIHmuhh
— Real Madrid C.F. (@realmadrid) August 22, 2018
Shaquille O’Neal didn’t know David Beckham until 2005
On The Big Podcast with Shaq, The Diesel shared the incident where he came to know who Beckham was when was left behind the former Manchester United superstar on the top paid athlete’s list.
“If you want to become great, you have to look at other great ones. So, for years when I first came in, I wanted to be the highest-paid athlete in the world. I took pride in that” Shaq said.
He continued, “And then one day I finally get hold of the list and I’m number 2 and I see David Beckham. Who the hell is this David Beckham? Soccer. So, I meet David, we hang out, I like David, he’s cool, guess I’d be number 2.”
The England team’s captain and Real Madrid’s midfielder at the time earned well over €30 million in 2005, which was composed of his salary and advertising contracts, keeping him at the top of the highest-paid athletes.
Meanwhile, Shaq in his last year (2004-05) with the Los Angeles Lakers earned his highest salary at $27.6 million and a couple more million from advertisements.
Even though it wasn’t the age of the internet, the world was never that far behind in at least knowing top athletes from top sports like Boxing, Football, and Tennis. Anyway, we know Shaq and his incredible lifestyle, can’t blame him if he was too busy snacking and wandering around in big houses/mansions all the time.
One of those houses was in Beverley Hills in LA, where David would also own a house, years later, after coming down to play in the LA Galaxy soccer club of the MLS. Both the great personalities of their sport did eventually become friends.
Beckham became a household name in the US no less than Shaq, where “Soccer” wasn’t as famous as everywhere else in the world until Beckham (2007) and later Thierry Henry (2010) came there to make it more popular.