Nearly everyone who has come into contact with Los Angeles Lakers legend Shaquille O’Neal has positive memories. He is legitimately one of the most beloved players in NBA history because of his fun-loving personality.
Someone who has plenty of experience with O’Neal is longtime Lakers photographer Andy Bernstein. Inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame with the 2018 class, Bernstein has a ton of stories about all kinds of NBA stars, including a not-so-fun one involving the former Lakers center.
Bernstein was a guest on “The Full 48 with Howard Beck,” where he revealed a story about Shaq falling on top of him:
“It was Western Conference Finals, 2001 or something, and the Lakers were playing San Antonio, I think. Anyway, Shaq, who is incredibly controlled for a huge, gigantic person, was able to control himself. He only fell on me three times. And this was the third time. The other two I kind of saw coming and I just sort of avoided him. And he just flopped on us to get the call. But this time he just flattened me. We were literally face-to-face. I’m flattened, I’ve got camera and lenses embedded in my chest. He’s two inches away from my face, he’s looking at me and I’m gasping. He says, ‘Is that you, man?’ And I go, ‘Yes, please get the you know what off me.’ And he goes, ‘Give it a second, man. We’re on national TV.’ Typical Shaq. I’ll never forget it, never forgive him, but I still love him.”
Anyone who has watched O’Neal play knows he had a penchant at times of making the most of his falls. People likely don’t think about the poor bodies that he lands on, but as Bernstein notes it is not a fun experience, and O’Neal was prone to play it up even more when the lights are brightest.
Even still, despite the rough experience, Bernstein still loves the entertaining center, as does everyone else. For someone who has been around as long as he has and interacted with so many players, it says a lot about O’Neal that his interactions stand out so much.