The Players’ Tribune contributor and current New York Knicks caretaker Phil Jackson just dropped another behind the scenes bombshell about his former star pupil, Shaquille O’Neal, who will be inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame on Friday Night. This anecdote does not feature naked Shaq, though a child’s trampoline and wacky shenanigans at the lake do figure prominently. In the summer of 1999, O’Neal reached out to his new coach, and by some cosmic coincidence they were both in Montana at the same time.
Shaq, however, arrived at Jackson’s house on Flathead Lake early, and apparently wasn’t one to sit around and sedately admire Montana’s scenery. When Jackson finally got to the lake, he found that Shaq had commandeered a waverunner from one of his neighbors and reportedly done “big jumps” as the lake community denizens gathered around to watch with what we’d assume was great delight and awe at this huge human being conquering the a small watercraft. This is just about the best way anyone can meet anyone, and probably is the main reason that Shaq and Phil would build a dynasty together and in short order win three championship rings.
Jackson’s article is of course ostensibly about his friendship with Shaq and how he pushed him to become the MVP. That’s all fine and good, but the thing we’re probably all going to remember is Shaq jumping on some kid’s trampoline and making some random guy with a waverunner let him borrow it so he could take his talents to the lake.