Phil Jackson and Shaquille O’Neal were a great combination (along with a guy named Kobe Bryant, of course), as the two were part of multiple NBA championship runs in 2000, 2001 and 2002.
During his rise to fame in Los Angeles, Shaq was known to crack a few laughs to lighten the mood. That included showing up to practice without any clothes on, except for his sneakers.
“Well, you know, numbers of times, he could crack a team up with humorous effects on the floor,” Jackson said to ESPN’s Hannah Storm at a promotional event sponsored by American Express Monday. “There were times when he shocked us all in a practice situation, especially when he showed up nude with just his shoes on.”
Judging solely by the way that quote was transcribed, it would seem Shaq did this not once, but perhaps on multiple occasions. Shaq, however, either chose to remove those moments from his memory bank or simply has poor long-term memory.
“I don’t remember,” Shaq said, per USA Today’s FTW.
There is anecdotal evidence to suggest this was a common tactic of Shaq’s. As pointed out by SI.com, Alvin Gentry shared a similar experience from Shaq’s time with the Phoenix Suns.
The coach said “every few days or every week or so” the big man would come barreling around a locker room corner completely nude and tackle a teammate or coaching staff member to the ground where he would roll around with them in what he called “Brazilian naked wrestling.”
As far as we know, nobody on the TNT set has shared a similar experience about their broadcast partner.