Whenever September 13 or March 9 roll around, it has become custom to expect a slew of articles, videos and everything in between paying respect to Hip Hop’s fallen giants: Tupac Shakur and Biggie Smalls. The concept has been beaten into the ground long ago, but it serves as a true testament to the unwillingness of pop culture to let go. And that’s fine.
ESPN’s Outside The Lines somehow gave the old dog a new trick when they focused their attention on the close friendship of Shaquille O’Neal and B.I.G. It also tied into the fact that The Diesel celebrated his 39th birthday today. Given the fact Wallace referenced Shaq in “Gimme The Loot” and even appeared on their 1996 collaboration “Can’t Stop The Reign,” the fact they knew each other was apparent. What was not, however, was how much the future Hall Of Famer often blames himself for Big’s death. Losing a close friend is one thing. Not being their when they passed knowing you were supposed to is something you never get over, regardless of time and prayers.
It was interesting to see a usually exuberant and boisterous Shaq become the exact opposite when reflecting on one night that changed music forever. At that point, he was like the rest of us when speaking on memories of Biggie; even though his were from a closer vantage point. For all intents and purposes, the bond appeared to be real. The perplexing element of the story is the question Shaquille asks himself all the time: What if he had been in the car? Would the outcome have changed? And if it didn’t, how much different would the landscape of basketball look? Thankfully, life spared us from having an answer for the last two.