During a recent episode of “The Big Podcast with Shaq” from Playmaker HQ, NBA legend Shaquille O’Neal reminisced about how Dikembe Mutombo’s trash talk fueled his determination to win Game 1 in the 2001 NBA Finals.

O’Neal recounted how Mutombo’s bold statements in the press, boasting about his defensive prowess, served as motivation for him to dominate on the court.

Recalling the moment, Shaq revealed how he was incensed by Mutombo’s claims and used that anger to fuel his performance in the game.

“Uncle Jerome brings an article. He said, ‘Hey man, Dikembe say he going to play you one-on-one, bro. You just trying to get me pumped. I’m going to be ready.’ He said, ‘No, that’s what he said.’ So I looked at it and it was quotes and I said, yeah, and then I’ll be watching TV that night,” O’Neal recalled.

“And he said, ‘I’m Dikembe Mutombo, I’m the defensive player of the year.’ So now I’m pissed. So now the first play of the game, I get it and this motherf*cker standing behind me, I’m like, oh, they’re not going to double me. And then the Dikembe made the mistake of 7-4 going to 6-11 and he put his face right behind my shoulder. I try to knock his motherf*cking teeth out his mind every time.”

Despite Shaq’s impressive 44-point performance, it was Allen Iverson (48 points) and the Philadelphia 76ers who emerged victorious in Game 1 of the series.

However, the setback in the opening game didn’t deter O’Neal and the Los Angeles Lakers, who went on to win the next four games and clinch the championship.