Due to the Fear of His Kids, Shaquille O’Neal Admits He Slapped 7’2 NBA Giant and “Laid Him Out” in 1997

Published 12/01/2022, 4:00 PM EST

Shaquille O’Neal didn’t take long to become the most dominant force in the NBA. He became an even bigger figure in 1997 when Shaq made his way to Los Angeles. As a part of the Los Angeles Lakers, the Big Diesel was hungry and in his prime. The Hall of Famer’s first season didn’t disappoint as the purple and gold cruised to the Western Conference Semi-Finals. However, Shaq’s path of brutality would be suppressed by the Utah Jazz.

Notably, their center, Greg Ostertag managed to hold the former MVP to just 22 points while shooting under 50%, penny numbers for Shaq at the time. Swallowed by the confidence, the Jazz center went on to bad mouth the Big Diesel. Notably, he dismissed Shaq’s ferocity. However, Ostertag didn’t know the Lakers’ big man would come for retribution.


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In Shaquille O’Neal’s newest HBO documentary, ‘Shaq’, the Big Diesel shed light on his rivalry with Ostertag. The four-time champ didn’t appreciate the scrutiny from the Jazz center. Protecting his respect in the name of his children, Shaq slapped his rival right before a preseason game.

Shaquille O’Neal details the slap incident with Ostertag

The four-part documentary about arguably the most dominant player of all time was bound to bring many stories. Shaquille O’Neal wasn’t new to being in the face of controversy. Moreover, as a competitor, the Los Angeles Lakers’ brute was destructive. Likewise, when he read about Ostertag’s public criticism, Shaq was red hot. The next time the pair met, the three-time All-Star game MVP confronted the Utah Jazz star. However, when Ostertag dismissed his quiet sentiment, the Big Aristotle used his hands to send the message.


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In the second episode of the Shaq documentary, the legendary center said: “First preseason game in Utah, he’s talking in an article. Shaq ain’t all that, overrated. Those are words that I’ll punch you in the face for. So I said, “Hey man, I have kids, watch what you say in the article.” (Ostertag said) “Man fuck you.” Laid him out. Laid him out!”

Lakers Kobe Bryant bumps chests with Shaquille O’Neal after O’Neal got fouled scoring in the first half during the First Round of the Western Conference Playoffs at Staples Center Sunday April 21, 2002.Trailblazer Damon Stoudamire looks on from the left. Lakers won 95–87. (Photo by Gina Ferazzi/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

Shaquille O’Neal would suffer a one-game suspension along with a $10000 fine for his violent conduct. In addition, he publicly apologized to Ostertag for slapping him. However, it seems the damage had been done. In an interview, the Jazz center’s teammate, Karl Malone said “it f****ed up Greg Ostertag for the rest of his life”. The two would meet the following season again in the WCF. While the outcome didn’t change, Shaq asserted his dominance on the inferior center. The Big Diesel averaged 31.8 points and 9.3 rebounds.


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The Lakers legend would go on to have a Hall of Fame career with four championships, including a three-peat. Shaq’s accolades included a regular season MVP, three-time Finals MVP, 14 All-NBA selections, and a 15-time All-Star. On the other hand, Ostertag’s most famous moment remains his nine blocks against Shaq’s Lakers.


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Do you think the slap really affected the Utah Jazz star? Let us know your views in the comments below.



Anuj Talwalkar

1698 articles

Anuj Talwalkar is an NBA writer at EssentiallySports. He is a student studying at NM College in Mumbai, aspiring to pursue sports management to follow his love for sports. Anuj started following the NBA last year, and he loves to combine his passion for writing with his understanding of basketball.