It doesn’t seem like all that long ago that Shaquille O’Neal was rattling the rims at the STAPLES Center with his thunderous dunks and leading the Los Angeles Lakers to victory. Similarly, it feels like only yesterday that Ron Artest was knocking down a clutch three to help put away the Boston Celtics in Game 7 and bring a 16th championship to Los Angeles.
Yet, it has been a long time. O’Neal retired after the conclusion of the 2010-2011 NBA season and hadn’t worn a Lakers jersey in 12 years. Last week, he was inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame. Artest, now going by Metta World Peace, played for the Lakers last season but was primarily used as a mentor to the team’s young talent, as his days of being an effective on-court player are behind him.
Perhaps the greatest indicator of just how much time has passed is the fact that World Peace and O’Neal’s sons recently played against each other in high school basketball. Here is footage of the match up from Ballervisions:
The younger O’Neal is considered to be one of the top prospects in the 2018 graduating class, and was rumored to be training with Kobe Bryant. He recently transferred from Windward Academy to Crossroads in Santa Monica. World Peace attended the game and watched his son, Ron Artest III, who plays for Beverly Hills High School, in action.
Both players showed impressive skill, but it’s O’Neal who is already drawing interest from top colleges. Unlike his dad, who dominated the NBA with his size and strength from the center position, Shareef is a silky-smooth power forward who has three-point range. Shaq recently mentioned that he would like his son to attend Michigan State, LSU, or Kentucky, based on the head coaches of those programs.
For Lakers fans, seeing the children of former stars pop up on the college, and soon NBA radar is a reminder of just how much time has passed since the glory days. Perhaps a new O’Neal will be the one to lead them back to the top of the basketball world.