Can you imagine if UNC succeeded in recruiting Shaquille O'Neal? UNC fans already have the bragging rights to Michael Jordan, Vince Carter, Rasheed Wallace, Jerry Stackhouse, and countless others, but Shaq? Arguably, the top 3 most dominant big man to ever play basketball in Carolina blue... UNC doesn't need that much power.
But if we're having fun, who would you have given up to recruit him? Does it even cross your mind to give-up, first-team All-ACC, and Mr. Virginia Basketball, George Lynch? Or do you cut the playing time of incoming freshman in 1990, All-American, Eric Montross? Also, take note that both of their jerseys are hanging in the Dean Dome rafters and National Champions in 1993 (Chris Webber and that timeout). Is Shaq worth two UNC legends?
Back in February, Shaq made an appearance on The Players Tribune podcast, "Knuckleheads", hosted by Quentin Richardson and Darius Miles. On the podcast, Shaq recants his NBA glory days, the importance of his father's guidance through High School, and, most importantly, why he didn't choose UNC?
Darius Miles: I know you chose LSU, was there any chance anyone else that could've gotten you?
Shaq: I don't like people telling me stuff that sounded too good, cause I never heard that before. As a sophomore, I wasn't that good. Junior year, okay. Senior year, now I'm starting to make a name for myself. So now they were treating me like Jordan; I was like, "I'm good, but I ain't that good yet." So I went to North Carolina, Rick Fox showed me around, it was too, let me say this without being disrespectful, it wasn't hood enough for me (Chapel Hill), it was too, 'Hey sir,' I don't like that. So I went to North Carolina State, Jim Valvano. Actually, it was a guy at North Carolina State, name was Charles Shackleford, I took his whole style, he was Shaq first. So I was like I'm not going to play next to him, there cant be two Shaq's. I don't want to go there.
Shaq mentions Illinois (too cold), UNLV (too scary, refers to the Vegas lifestyle), and ultimately, LSU; it felt like home.
I think we can all agree; Rick Fox should've driven Shaq up to the Bull City if he wanted some live-action (just jokes!). UNC may not have been the choice for Shaq, choosing LSU was the best choice for his career. During his time at LSU, Shaq was a two-time All American, two-time SEC Player of the Year, college player of the year by AP, and received the Adolph Rupp Trophy as NCAA men's basketball player of the year in 1991. All of his accolades and hard work led to becoming the first-round draft pick in the 1992 NBA Draft.
1991 Final Four? Carolina would've beaten Kansas. Following would've been the ultimate showdown of Christian Laettner vs Shaquille O'Neal, Duke vs UNC. The basketball gods knew fans couldn't have handled it. The possibility gives chills.
If anything, UNC fans are just thankful he didn't go to NC State.
What are your thoughts on Shaq at UNC?
Just in case you want to see Shaq vs Laettner, LSU vs Duke, check it out below!