The two legends who went 1 and 2 in the 1992 NBA draft gave their take on this year’s draft and the current state of the NBA
When it comes to the long list of legendary big men of the NBA, Shaq and Alonzo Mourning are certainly two of the more prominent names that come to mind. They were two dominant forces from the moment they entered the NBA and bitter rivals for the first 14 years of their career. All that changed when they joined forces on the Miami Heat and became World Champions together in 2006. American Express managed to get the once rivals and now best friends together again, but this time to discuss the 2017 draft. 25 years ago, they joined the NBA when they were drafted 1 and 2 and now they share their take on how nerve wracking draft day was for them along with some great stories you don’t hear very often, such as how Shaq managed to spend a million dollars in less than 30 minutes days before the draft, and why Alonzo feels he should’ve been Rookie of the Year. Not to mention the one off story Shaq mentioned in passing about the time he wanted to buy a pair of Toms shoes, but they would only make them in his size if he had a substantial order, so he ordered a 1000 pairs of the shoes. One thing that they both managed to agree on is their opinion of Dream Team II being the best Olympic. With all of that, they managed to discuss their opinions on the current NBA, especially after the Finals and the first “true super team”.
Check out the interview below:
Let’s talk a little bit about what just happened in the NBA Finals. For three consecutive years, two teams face off for the NBA Championship. What stood out to you about the Warriors’ second championship in two years?
Shaq: Golden State won 73 games, and when you add a guy like Kevin Durant whose averaging 30, but even if he was averaging 20, they were still probably going to win. Series can always go either way. I always say to people, if Kyle Korver were to hit a couple of those shots that he missed, the series would’ve been 2-2, and it probably would’ve been different. Golden State, when you got 4 guys on the court and they’re not really role players but stars. It’s the first time in my opinion that a superstar joined a team that was already established. We put a lot of pressure on these kids to win, especially us in the media, and he did the right thing and he made a good choice. They embraced him, they made him a leader, and he was the finals MVP and he got it done. The way their team is comprised, they’re going to be around for a while. They play a great style of basketball that looks pretty and makes the old style look bad, with all of the iso.
Their Golden State Warriors versus your Lakers. Can they deal with you?
Shaq: No. I would instruct Derek and Kobe, make those guys drive and instead of focusing on scoring in the first quarter, I’d focus on touching those guys up, letting them know. Then I’d sit out and let Kobe do his thing, then I’d be upset with myself and just try to score 15 quick points to get back on track – (laughter) – and then-
Alonzo: Listen to how easy he makes it sound.
Shaq: And then if I get the ball and I turn around and Draymond Green is guarding me, I’m a be like, clear out. That’s barbecue chicken.
I actually read this and I’m curious to know if it’s true, you were terrified before the draft. Terrified of what?
Shaq: Of them picking him [Alonzo Mourning] number 1.
You wanted to go one?
Shaq: Well everyone was just telling that I was going number one and I kept hearing it, so what if they wanted to go defense then I would’ve be number two.
This draft is certainly highly regarded. Do you guys think that they can live up to the hype they have received.
Alonzo: I do, and I think you got to give these kids a chance. The game is different from when we played, number one. When you think about these young kids, they coming in with a certain skill level that if developed a right way, they can carry that torch.
If you had one piece of advice you can give these men, what would you say?
Shaq: I would say enjoy the moment. Whoever picks you, it’s time to become a consummate professional. Work on you craft. Work on yourself. Better yourself. Save your money. Make them remember your name, cause as a youngster my mother always told me “Make them remember Shaquille O’Neal”. I came in and I was like “How am I going to measure up against those guys?” I had to find my niche.
Alonzo: My one piece of advice is first of all, the game is temporary, it’s not forever. There’s no guarantee how long you’re going to play. Play each game, live each moment like it’s your last, cause it could be. That’s how i approached the game. I played it like it was my last game and I prepared like hell, cause I knew the next game and the next game and the next game, I had to prepare. You have to keep trying to figure out how to get better and I learned that from the greats. I learned that from Michael, I learned that from Patrick, I learned that from Robinson and Olajuwon and that was motivation for me.