Shaquille O’Neal Recalls the Bizarre Reason Why He Switched to Basketball From Football

Published 09/10/2021, 9:30 AM EDT


Shaquille O’Neal is one of the most dominant centers of all time in the history of NBA basketball. He was so good at it almost seemed like he was destined to have a stellar career. And he fulfilled those expectations without a doubt. However, it might seem surprising, but there was a time when Shaq was pursuing football instead of basketball. And had it not been for this bizarre but logical reason, Shaq would have never played in the NBA.

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Shaquille O’Neal has recently admitted that had it not been for a knee injury while playing football, he would most likely have a career in football instead of basketball.

ORLANDO, FL – 1993: Shaquille O’Neal #32 of the Orlando Magic poses with Michael Jordan #23 of the Chicago Bulls prior to playing an NBA game circ 1993 at the TD Waterhouse Centre in Orlando, Florida.(Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)

Shaquille O’Neal on how a news article inspired him to play basketball

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Shaquille O’Neal appeared on Jimmy Kimmel Live where he spoke to Jimmy about a lot of themes and topics. One topic that came up was Shaq’s favorite team in American football. Since Shaq did his schooling in Texas, he is a Dallas Cowboys fan.

So his confidence in the team was so high that he was willing to bet anything on the fact that the Cowboys will win. Sadly, the Cowboys did not. However, Kimmel then asked him about where his passion for football came from, which is when Shaq told him about this story.

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He said “Yes, I played tight end and then, a guy your size sideswiped me one day and kind of messed my knee up. And then I started playing basketball. My dad brought an article. A player by the name of Jon Koncak, he was making 15 million for three years. So after I saw that, I was like, okay yeah, I think I’ll start playing basketball.”

Shaquille O’Neal is not the only player who started off with another sport before turning to basketball. Even Hakeem Olajuwon started playing soccer as a goalkeeper before they scouted him as a center in the league for the Rockets. It is bizarre to think those legendary players like Olajuwon and O’Neal could have possibly never played in the league.

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However, we thank our lucky stars that we got to see these legends in action for this sport. It is hard to imagine that had it not been for an injury and a newspaper article, Shaquille O’Neal would not be in the Hall of Fame.

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Chaitanya Dadhwal

127 articles

Chaitanya Dadhwal is an NBA writer at EssentiallySports. Even though his journalism is driven by his desire to understand both sides of an argument and give a neutral perspective, he is biased towards Houston Rockets and Arsenal, and he has shown exactly how loyal he can be through tough times. Currently a Law student at Jindal Global Law School, he aims to have his own sports management firm one day and enjoys rap music during his time off.

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