The Big 3 era of Miami Heat basketball may be the “good old days” for fans in South Beach, but the team’s big breakthrough came a few years earlier. Led by a young Dwyane Wade and a veteran star in Shaquille O’Neal, the Heat won their first title in 2006 against Dirk Nowitzki and the Dallas Mavericks.
Of course, Shaq and Flash had a lot of help in capturing the Larry O’Brien Trophy. For his part, Gary Payton — who was a nine-time All-Star and a former teammate of O’Neal’s with the Lakers — provided defense, clutch shooting and leadership on the court.
Payton recently discussed his Heat days, among other things, with Vlad Lyubovny of VladTV fame on YouTube.
And while it was an insightful interview filled with little nuggets spanning the breadth of his Hall of Fame career, the Glove served up a particularly startling revelation regarding Shaq and some rookie hazing during their mutual time in Miami.
Payton on Shaq & His Bucket
As seen above, Payton was asked about having supposedly retained possession of a framed pair of Shaq’s underwear into the present day. In addressing the rumor, he dropped a disturbing bombshell about, well…
“We used to always play jokes,” Payton said. “Shaq is a jokester. So, if one of the rookies would be in the stall, he would take a bucket and use the bathroom in it for about a week. And then all of a sudden, he would pour it on them.”
For the record, Wayne Simien, Earl Barron, Matt Walsh and Gerald Fitch were the Heat’s rookies during their championship season. The following year, it was Chris Quinn and Robert Hite. Poor, unfortunate souls the lot of them.
Shaq wasn’t the only one playing the joker, though. As Payton tells it, he and the big man went back and forth as well. However, the Glove apparently saw fit to leave his bodily fluids out of it. Mostly, he just stole O’Neal’s underwear.
“I said, ‘I gotta get him!’ …So, I got his drawers one day and I took them!” Payton confessed.
According to Payton, his pilfering of O’Neal’s pants and underoos forced the big man to roll around au naturel on a number of occasions.
“He’d get in his truck and ride around and then he would throw the towel out and then he’d be free-balling,” Payton added. “So I used to keep all the shorts pair of drawers and all that stuff.”
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Payton on Stepping Aside So D-Wade Could Soar
The Hall of Famer also recounted the story about how he convinced O’Neal that Wade was the face of the Heat and that the two of them would have to take a step back if they wanted to get the chip in ’06.
“When Van Gundy got fired, we’re like 15 games, 14 games under .500 or something like that. Then, all of a sudden, we were having problems with who was our go-to guy and Shaq at that time was not our go-to guy. I think this young kid Flash was our guy,” Payton said.
“I’m not the guy that I used to be. So, I might have to play defensive take the slack and make the shots when I have to. Shaq wasn’t really going for that. I had to pull him to the side because that’s like my brother,” he said.
“I told him ‘Look, if we gonna win this championship, or even make a run for it, you got to be like me. We got to say forget it, our times over. We here, we won everything, made all this money. Good. Don’t worry about this Let’s win a championship right now.’”