Prior to the start of the Eastern Conference Finals, TNT aired a special sit down between Shaquille O’Neal and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. The pair of Laker greats were never on the best terms during O’Neal’s career, but have reconciled of late, most notably after LeBron James passed Kareem as the NBA’s all-time leading scorer when the legend spoke with the Inside the NBA crew and made sure to let Shaq know that he loved him and was a fan of his game.
It was an incredibly touching moment that you could tell meant the world to Shaq and led to Wednesday’s interview between the Hall of Famers. In that interview, they touched on their history, with Shaq apologizing to Kareem for being distant and the two talking through why that was, but they also touched on lighter subjects as well. One of those was a story Charles Barkley has told before about the first time he met Abdul-Jabbar that Shaq had to get confirmation on.
The meeting happened at Barkley’s first All-Star Game, where in the locker room prior to the game he approached Kareem while he was reading the paper in the corner and Abdul-Jabbar told him to go away.
Kareem confirmed that’s how his first meeting with Chuck went, noting “there were times where I just couldn’t be bothered,” while noting Barkley’s now making him pay for it. It’s a very funny anecdote made better by how much Shaq enjoys the mental picture of a young Barkley getting snubbed by one of his idols.