The NBA’s 75th anniversary celebrations reached a climax on Sunday at the NBA All-Star Game in Cleveland, with the 75 Greatest Players team scheduled to be honored at halftime.
When the team was announced at the start of the year, there was some disagreement regarding who should have been on it, as they added 26 names to everyone who was on the NBA at 50 team (due to a tie in voting). The way the team pays tribute to each era of the NBA and those who paved the way for the current era of stars to stand next to is one of the times of year when you can really see how much it means to the guys to be in that company, and All-Star, when so many legends come back for festivities, is one of the times of year when you can really see how much it means to the guys to be in that company.
On TNT’s pregame show, Charles Barkley and Shaq were asked about the photo shoot for the 75 Greatest Players team before the game, and Barkley said a few words about how cool it was, but Shaq had a lot more to say, launching into an incredible speech in which he thanked not only the legends in the NBA who came before him, but everyone who pushed him throughout his career — from childhood to the NBA — to get him to the point where he could be on that
It’s actually one of the best things they’ve ever done on TNT, as Ernie says at the end, and Shaq’s honesty and passion, which he so frequently guards and deflects with humour, was incredible. It serves as a reminder of how much this team meant to these players, with Shaq expressing his wish for his father, sister, and Kobe Bryant to be present to celebrate with him because of how crucial they were to his journey.