NBA Legend, Shaquille O’Neal has attributed his championship run inside the NBA to the sport of MMA.
Speaking to ESPN’s Ariel Helwani Shaq revealed while training for his championship season with the L.A. Lakers in 2000 he chose to train MMA as training basketball wasn’t enough to get him in shape.
“MMA is the reason I became a champion. You know, I always used to practice basketball it wasn’t enough because when I played basketball it wasn’t basketball it was more wrestling. So when I trained MMA with John Burke a friend of mine down in Orlando I came back in the best shape of my life that was in 2000, won, dominated. So I’m a creature of habit, did it again won a second championship, did it again won the third championship. Got cute, got away from it, lost, got traded to Miami did it again won the fourth championship. So you know MMA is something that always kept my heart rate up, it was something I was very interested in”.
There was a time where O’Neal considered entering the octagon himself against South Korean pro fighter Hong-man Choi. Shaq shared that his motive behind this bout was to finally face someone his size.
“I did call out Hong-man Choi a long time ago because I’ve never fought anyone my size. Ever since 10 years old I’ve heard the phrase pick on someone your own size so, at the time a couple years ago if he was willing to fight I would have fought him”.
Unfortunately for the NBA legend this never was seriously pursued.
“I just mentioned it, I wanted somebody to come back. Actually, I wanted Dana to come back and say I’ll set it up but nobody ever did so it just turned into I say something, he say something but, I definitely would have gave it a crack”.
How do you think a fight between Shaq and Hong-man Choi would have gone?