Shaquille O’Neal is an established superstar with four rings and 15 All-Star Game appearances. Semih Erden is a rookie who has never played a single second in his NBA career. Shaq speaks English. Erden doesn’t. Shaq looks like a 7’1″ mammoth beast of mass destruction. Erden looks like an oversized Turkish teenager.
So it’s a bit surprising they’ve quickly become friends, and Shaq has adopted Erden as his protege. (Boston Herald)
“Such a player as Shaq, he’s helping me all the time and correcting my mistakes,” Erden said, his words accelerating at mention of his new practice partner. “Every detail, helping me in every way, so I’m happy for his support. I grew up watching Shaq. He was a star player, a great player. I always respected him, but now I even more respect him because he is such a good person, with a great personality, so I’m really impressed. He’s a star, not just a basketball player.”
My words accelerate at the mention of Shaq and Erden’s friendship. They’ll accelerate a little more if Shaq’s lessons help Erden become a contributor, at least while Kendrick Perkins remains injured. But even though I was impressed by Erden in the World Championships, I’m not holding my breath.