Shaquille O’Neal expressed his heartwarming love for his fellow NBA legend and personal idol, Patrick Ewing. 

In the latest release of NBA 75 stories wherein Ewing was featured, O’Neal gave his admiration on the iconic center. As such, the four-time champion even admitted that he wanted to grow up and be like him, because of that inspiring power, physicality, and bully mentality.

“When I was coming up, my father always said ‘Hey. I’m gonna make you like Bill Russell, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and Wilt Chamberlain,'” Shaq narrated. “As a youngster I used to practice all these old school moves … really old school moves. Then one day I was watching Patrick Ewing in Georgetown. Big guy; mean; physical; throwing people around; running the court.” 

“I said ‘Dad, I want to be like him.’ He was like ‘I know, that’s why I got you watching the game.'” 

Shaq added that Ewing was his role model and the first player he was intimidated upon facing – eventually donning the jersey no. 33 as an honor.

“So I’m watching Patrick Ewing, wearing the 33. As I became better, I wanted to be like Patrick Ewing. He was the first player where I played against him, I was actually intimidated.”

Ewing was the heart and soul of the New York Knicks from the mid-80s to the whole 90s decade, leading the franchise to two final appearances in 1994 and 1999. Unfortunately, as it seems that he didn’t capture the league’s ultimate prize, he still remains a special figure in basketball with that shooting, strength, and savvy approach as a center from the past. 

The Georgetown University’s finest might not be a prominent name being discussed within the game’s greatest center debate, but he is certainly deserving of his own flowers for playing in the golden age of big men – sparring against the likes of Hakeem Olajuwon, Karl Malone, David Robinson, Dennis Rodman, Alonzo Mourning, Shawn Kemp, and especially O’Neal. 

Knowing that O’Neal was arguably the most dominant force in the NBA, it’s kind of unreal that he acknowledged Ewing as the very first fearsome opponent he encountered. 

Indeed, respect goes a long way.