Shaquille O’Neal was a dominant NBA force. The Hall of Famer had an illustrious 19-year career, highlighted by a league MVP in 1999-00 and four championships, three of which with the Los Angeles Lakers. But Shaq was never exactly a threat beyond the paint.
O’Neal attempted a grand total of 22 three-pointers across stints with six different teams. But that didn’t stop the big man from offering up some advice to three-time champion Danny Green.
Shaquille O’Neal and Danny Green go back a few years
Toward the twilight of O’Neal’s career, the 7-foot-1 center was traded to LeBron James‘ Cleveland Cavaliers. There, he met a 22-year-old rookie named Danny Green.
Green, a second-round pick out of North Carolina, wasn’t much of a factor for the 61-21 Cavaliers. The guard saw the court in 20 games, averaging just under six minutes of playing time. But that didn’t stop Shaq from keeping the rookie on his toes. Most notably, making the youngster do some singing.
“He’s a very creative guy,” Green said years later. “I did sing a couple of songs. … A little dancing. You had to greet [O’Neal and other veterans] a certain way. It was all fun and games, but it’s a lot different when you’re a rookie that’s playing than a rookie that’s not playing. They had a little fun with me because I wasn’t playing much.”
James even confirmed that Shaq was at the forefront of Green’s rookie hazing.
“I wasn’t really the veteran on the team that made the rookies do stuff,” James said. “Most of the time it was Shaq. Shaq made him do everything.”
Shaq gave shooting advice to Green during the 2019 NBA Finals
In 2019, the Toronto Raptors defeated the Milwaukee Bucks in the Eastern Conference Finals to advance to their first NBA Finals. But the six-game series was difficult for Green. Toronto’s starting shooting guard went 4-for-23 from beyond the arc, including 0-for-9 in the last three games.
In the middle of a difficult series against the defending champion Golden State Warriors, Green received advice from his old teammate O’Neal ahead of Game 3.
“I said [to Green], ‘Look, I played with a lot of shooters,'” O’Neal said on NBA on TNT. “‘And I’m not going to tell you how [to shoot] because I’ve never been a shooter, but I played with [Dennis] Scott, I played with guys … Jeff Turner. Every time they left it — just leave it up there. I’ve seen [Peja] Stojakovic. I played with Rick Fox. Big Shot Bob [Robert Horry]. Every time they leave it, it goes in.’ I just brought him over here because I saw him messing around in the warmups. I said, ‘Hey man, this is the Finals. Leave it and stop [expletive] around. Get your game right.’”
Green followed O’Neal’s advice, and the results immediately followed. The sharp-shooter hit six threes as Toronto upset Golden State on the road 123-109. In total, Green made 12 threes in the series, playing a big role in the Raptors’ championship victory.
Danny Green has gotten the same advice from O’Neal before
After his breakthrough performance in Game 3, Green spoke to the media. He talked about Shaq’s message, as well as how the 7-1 giant likes to give advice whenever he sees his old teammate.
“I spoke to him before the game briefly,” Green said. “He’s always on the TNT set and he was out there right before the game. And every time I see him, he’s giving me his pure shooting advice, you know, because he was good at it. But, you know, just the fundamentals, the small things. He was telling me to be confident and hold the follow-through. Obviously, after a good shooting night, it’s easy to see that his advice has worked. He always just yells to me, ‘Leave it!’ That’s his way of saying leave your hand up there, hold your follow-through, and be confident in your shot.”
Green’s shooting played a key role the following year, as the 12-year veteran won another championship with the Lakers. The one-time Cavaliers benchwarmer is now a three-time champion with 1,458 made three-pointers on 40.1% shooting, 15th among active NBA players.
Now, as he tries to win another ring with the Philadelphia 76ers, Green will keep O’Neal’s shooting advice in mind. If not, don’t put it past the Hall of Famer to make his old friend have to sing again.
All statistics courtesy of Basketball Reference.