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|Shaquille O'Neal at first glance|
I remember the first time I saw Shaquille O'Neal.
It was on November 15, 1989, before "The Diesel," "Shaq Daddy," "The Big Aristotle," "The Big Conductor," "Shaq Fu," "Big Shaqtus," and the "Big Shamroq."
I was covering the LSU-Southern Mississippi basketball game in Baton Rouge.
Vernel Singleton of Natchez was dressed out in the purple and gold, while Russell Johnson of Natchez was a co-captain for the Eagles.
But it was hard to focus on either when LSU players casually strolled onto the floor for pre-game warm-ups.
Out walks Chris Jackson, as smooth of a basketball player as I have watched.
Then comes Shaquille O'Neal and Stanley Roberts. I seriously thought the court was going to tilt.
Both 7-footers seemed to block out the lights hanging above the hardwood floor.
USM had a talented team under legendary coach M.K. Turk, with Johnson and co-captain Darin Chancellor, along with Clarence Weatherspoon.
The Golden Eagles finished 20-12 that season and 9-5 in the rugged Metro Conference with Louisville, Memphis State and Cincinnati.
But after watching LSU defeat USM 91-80, I thought this was a Tiger team that would go all the way.
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