Shakil: “I got mad when they asked me about the Parthenon and said I haven’t been to that… club”!

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Interview with… Greek color granted to Cosmote TV by Shaquille O’Neal.

Speaking to Rigas Dardalis, the veteran NBA star once again praised him Giannis Antetokounmpo and spoke warmly of his friend, Panagiotis Fasoula.

He revealed, didn’t he, one traumatic experience from his last visit to our country, when asked about him Parthenon and thought it was about… club.

What Shakil said in detail

– I know that your first answer to something related to Greece will be the name Fasoulas.

“He is my friend. Bean, my brother, I love you. Next up is Baby Shaq and Giannis”…

– Do you remember anything from the games against Fasoula in the 1994 World Cup semi-final in Toronto?

“What I remember is his nice fur. He also made a movement with his head and the fur went back and forth and you had a hard time marking him. He was a tall player with a sweet touch on the ball, but he’s also a nice guy.”

– Have you ever met Baby Shaq, Sophocles Shorcianitis?

“Yeah, I ran into him when I was playing in Cleveland.”

– He never went to the NBA after all. Do you think he could have gone?

“He could, everything has to do with the opportunity, the acquaintances… I think he wanted to play in Greece.”

– One of your first nicknames was Aristotle the Great. Aristotle was the teacher of Alexander the Great who created the kingdom of Macedonia. You built an empire in basketball. Who played the role of Aristotle in your case?

“Aristotle for me was probably Dr J, Julius Erwig. I was watching him and after him I would say he was Magic Johnson. I was watching those players and I wanted to be like them and I wanted all the championships that Magic Johnson had, all the glory, everything.”

– You are one of the superstars who idolize Giannis. What differentiates him from the stars of this era?

“What sets him apart is that he plays hard all the time and in the right way. When you’re a sports fan, you have to respect that more than anything. He doesn’t take days off, he’s not an arrogant player, he takes fouls without complaining, he works for the next phase. One has to respect that.”

– In your time, do you think that Giannis would have had the same effect?

“It would have some effect, however the facts are different. It depends on the team you play for. In my time they didn’t like to see us players over 2.10 take the ball and move around the court with it. So, most likely, he would have taken a position in the post as a tall one.

He would do well because he is dry, strong and runs fast, so when I played with players like that I would tell them: If the ball bounces high and you don’t get a rebound, run. One of us will get a rebound so I would tell them to run because I would give them the pass, they could move with a dribble or they would hold it to play a set play. But to answer the question, yes, he would make it.”

– You competed alongside the incredible Kobe Bryant. Do you think that John has the same level of hard work as him?

“I don’t know how hardworking Giannis is, Kobe was different, but looking at things I would say yes. I see him in the game, he is unstoppable. Kobe was like that. People have different mindsets about how to do their work. Let’s say I didn’t do a lot of training because everything was going through my mind, I knew I would “finish” you when I entered the field, anyway”.

– Would you shoot today?

“I would never shoot a three-pointer. All those tall shooters, they weren’t even in the game because against me they would have had two fouls in the good night and they wouldn’t have shot. I would take the ball and make easy baskets.”

– You and Kobe Bryant were probably the best pair of players for many years in the Lakers. Do you regret the decision you made to leave the team?

“I didn’t leave, I was traded, so I don’t regret anything, it’s business. They owed me money that they didn’t want to give me, so they traded me. It’s all about business.”

– What do you think about this year’s championship? Do you think the Bucks are favorites?

“Always. They have Giannis and with a healthy Middleton they always play well. There are of course other teams in the East that will also make noise. It’s all about health and luck. Milwaukee has a plan and knows what it takes. They must all be healthy. Last year they lost Middleton for a few matches and it cost them.”

– What do you remember from your visit to Athens?

“I remember I got mad when they asked me about the Parthenon and I replied that I haven’t been to that club. I wasn’t well read and there was even an extensive article that said I don’t know Greek history. I know her now and I can’t wait to go back to Greece. Fassoula, I love you my brother”.

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