More on the Shaq / Zach Meeting

April 10, 2024

This past Monday was a hard night for Zach Edey and his Purdue Boilermakers. They weren’t exactly blown out by the UConn Huskies, but the game was pretty one-sided. Still, the Purdue big man got major props from – and got to meet – our man Shaq. Both were impressed. 

Here on the ShaqFu Radio blog, you may have seen previous posts about how O’Neal has had great things to say about Edey… even bestowing the nickname Zachille O’Neal.” That little “award” came after Edey became the first player to have at least 20 points and three blocks in three straight men’s NCAA Tournament games since O’Neal did exactly that back in 1991 and 1992 at LSU. 

On his IG account, Shaq wrote “@zach_edey way to dominate im changing your name to Zachille O’neal.” Quite the honor! 

Then when Final Four time arrived in Phoenix, Shaq was on hand to see his new “namesake” do his thing on the court. When asked about the props from O’Neal, Edey gladly accepted. “If Shaq wants to call me Zachille, I’ll take it. I’m Zachille. No argument here.” 

Before the Finals, Edey told reporters, “All respect to him. He’s an all-time great player and he accomplished basically everything I want to accomplish in the NBA. You always got to pay your respect to the people before you.”

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Shaq and Edey did get to meet in the tunnel before Purdue’s semifinal game. The two shook hands and exchanged a quick hug – and it was kinda hilarious to see somebody standing taller than O’Neal. “Great to finally meet you, man. It’s an honor,” Edey said. 

Talking about the meeting later, Edey said, “It’s real cool. Before I played basketball my mom and dad would watch him and (Charles Barkley) do their segments and they’d be laughing all the time. So to have a relationship with them and talk to them on the side and message them, it’s cool.”

At the time of the tunnel-meeting, we could see Shaq say something to Edey, but it was private. When asked about it, Edey described it as words of advice that he found “invaluable.” 

“He’s been through it all and had a whole career,” Edey said. “Just kind of being able to pick his brain and understand how he went through some things and dealt with some things is invaluable.”

Even with the disappointing end to the Purdue season, Edey definitely recorded some Shaq-like numbers throughout the NCAA Tournament. He’s averaging 28 points and 15.4 rebounds through five tournament games prior to the national championship game against UConn.

One last bit of the Shaq-meets-Edey story. One fan posted quite the funny clip of the Big Man (O’Neal, not Edey) having to be (gently) moved out of the way in the tunnel as the teams were heading to the locker room after the semifinal game against NC State. 

In the video, O’Neal could be seen scampering out of the way as security informs him about the incoming players, leading to a comical effort to help clear the route. Despite his giant-like persona and aura, he did not hesitate to smile heartily, knowing he might be blocking the way for the team heading towards the locker room. 

What’s next for Zachille O’Neal? The NBA Draft awaits. Stay tuned!

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