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HomeGeneralShaquille O’Neal Recounts His Frustration After 1996 Olympics Finals Game

Shaquille O’Neal Recounts His Frustration After 1996 Olympics Finals Game

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Shaquille O'Neal

Olympic gold medals, which is usually a dream come true for athletes, didn’t quite attract Shaquille O’Neal. The NBA legend had a different opinion about them at the time of the incident. For him, it wasn’t just about the shiny metal; it was about how he earned it. Shaq shared an experience he had on his podcast, “The Big Podcast”

Back in 1996, Shaq found himself in a very tough spot. David Robinson, who is also a seasoned player with Olympic experience, was sharing the court. Shaq, only 23 at the time, had his best years ahead. But during the final game against Yugoslavia, Shaq’s time on the court was reduced. The coach favored Robinson, and Shaq ended up riding the bench while his team won the match.

Shaquille O’Neal’s frustration hit the roof on the drive back home. He didn’t just feel disappointed; he felt downright angry.

“In the gold medal game, Lenny Wilkens says, ‘Hey, this is probably David Robinson’s last game. So he’s gonna get more minutes.’ I said, ‘Cool, I won’t blame him,'” O’Neal said. “But he didn’t play me at all. I was so pissed off after the ceremony. I drove home in my uniform and I threw the goddamn gold medal out the car window. I threw it away on the highway.” he confessed on his podcast.

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The medal meant nothing to Shaq if he didn’t feel like he earned it.

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“On the road, somewhere on the highway, there is an Olympic gold medal,” The Big Podcast cohost Adam Lefkoe suggested. O’Neal, who added that he doesn’t regret his actions, said he doesn’t believe the medal has ever been found.

Imagine seeing the audience cheer for your teammates on the court while you sit on the sidelines. That was what Shaq went through as he watched Robinson gather up points for his team. With just five minutes on the court, Shaq couldn’t find satisfaction even after his team won the match.

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Many years later, Shaq wrote a book, “Shaq Uncut,” in which he spoke about this same experience. He recounted his disappointment at his coach’s show of preference towards Robinson. He had felt sidelined, both figuratively and literally.

Shaq had to move on. He didn’t allow himself to fall into self-pity. Instead, he used that frustration and disappointment as fuel. He was going to show the world what he was made of. He left behind the disappointment of the ’96 Olympics and joined the LA Lakers, where he became the foundation of the three-peat team that took over the league and the living legend that we all know and love.

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Shaq’s gold medal highway toss wasn’t just a tantrum; it was a statement. It showed his commitment to working for and earning his success. From being frustrated to motivating himself, Shaq turned a disappointing moment into a stepping stone for his own greatness.

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