Magic Johnson has been making a big splash recently, with a big request following the death of the legendary Bill Russell. Shaquille O’Neal himself weighed in on the matter recently, and unlike many people, he totally agrees with the Hall of Famer.
Almost a week after the terrible news, the NBA is still reeling from losing Bill Russell. Died at the age of 88, the former Celtics pivot left a gaping chasm in the heart of the orange ball community. The biggest winner in the history of American sport (11 championship rings, five regular season MVPs) in addition to being a crucial socio-political activist during the 1960s, he quite simply marked his discipline forever.
Since then, the tributes have obviously multiplied, especially since he served as a mentor to a lot of players who came after him, especially among the interiors. We think in particular of Shaquille O’Neal, who has been very close to him during his own big league run. During an interview with USA Today, the Big Diesel returned to what his elder had taught him. In other words, we are talking about real life lessons.
I grew up knowing that Bill Russell was a great man. But I didn’t know how much until I talked to him. He couldn’t stay in the same hotels as his white teammates, people wrote harsh words to him. Back then, he didn’t make as much money as I did, but he never complained. These conversations taught me to be mentally strong, never to complain, and not to be a whiny baby with everything at my disposal.
It’s impossible not to feel the enduring respect the Hall of Famer has for Russell, considered by many to be the greatest leader in NBA history. On another occasion, O’Neal also touched on the subject of a general withdrawal of the big man’s No. 6. The idea had been submitted by Magic Johnson in particular, causing a big controversy among the fans. Shaqfu however has absolutely no problem with this idea, as he confided on the Rich Eisen Show :
Shaq wants Bill Russell’s #6 removed everywhere
The most important thing Bill Russell taught @SHAQ?
— Rich Eisen Show (@RichEisenShow) August 2, 2022
Rich Eisen : Do you think the NBA should retire No. 6 forever? As the number 42 was retired in baseball (for Jackie Robinson, editor’s note)?
Shaq : I would say yes. I know Adam Silver, he’s a gentleman, he’ll do the right thing. I think that’s a good recommendation. Yes, they should remove it. No more number 6.
That is what is said from the Big Aristotle. It remains to be seen whether the league will eventually agree to this request, but with more and more legends lining up behind it, it could only be a matter of time.
Shaquille O’Neal was particularly affected by the death of Bill Russell, having been very close to his elder during his formidable career. It’s no wonder he supports Magic Johnson’s request to immortalize the Celtics icon a little more.