Shaquille O'Neal learned a lesson in humility during his rookie year when veteran Greg Kite arrived at training camp to impart wisdom to the Orlando Magic's young players. However, according to ESPN's Jackie MacMullan, their initial interactions didn't go as planned after O'Neal disrespected him.
"He was telling me stuff on how to be a center," said the Hall of Famer. "But in my mind, I was already the best center. So, I kinda disrespected him one day."
Putting Shaq in his place
After Dennis Scott caught wind of how O'Neal dismissed the bruising big man, he accosted his younger teammate. "Kite knows what he's talking about," Scott said. O'Neal was still snotty in his remark, stating, "So I'm like, 'How? He can't play. I'm killin' this guy in practice every day.'" Scott then gave the big guy a harsh dose of reality.
Kite was a first-round pick in the 1983 draft. He also won two championships with the Boston Celtics in 1984 and 1986. The 6-foot-11 center served as a backup for the Celts, averaging less than 10 minutes per game in both title-winning seasons.
After spending time on three different teams, the Brigham Young University product went to the Magic in the 1990 offseason and became a full-time starter during his first year in Orlando. He was relegated to the bench when the franchise drafted O'Neal in 1992.
Becoming a champion himself
Fortunately, O'Neal started listening to Kite after the incident with Scott.
"He was one of those pieces that fit perfectly for a championship team," Shaq said. "So, I said, 'You know what? I better start listening.'"
It was a perfect opportunity for the "Big Diesel" to learn what it takes to win a championship, and realize that even second-stringers play an important role in any team's success, which he has alluded to plenty of times.
O'Neal went on to become a champion himself, hoisting his first trophy with the Los Angeles Lakers in the 1999-00 season.
It didn't take long for him to match Kite's title count after leading Los Angeles to the podium again the following season. O'Neal and the Lakers then completed the three-peat the year after.