It’s a right of passage for rookies to get a little bit of hazing from time to time.
It can be as simple as carrying a veteran’s pads before and after football practice or lugging around a keyboard all season for arguably the best big man to ever play the game of basketball.
Wait, what about that last one?
Phoenix Suns fans got some insight into the team’s 08-09 season they never knew they needed until now.
Sitting down with ESPN Insider Adrian Wojnarowski on The Woj Pod, Former Sun and current Miami Heat point guard Goran Dragic dove into his time in Phoenix and his relationship as a rookie with The Big Cactus, a.k.a Shaquille O’Neal, and the center’s keyboard.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) August 15, 2020
“I have to admit, he was great, he did take care of me, he had a lot of jokes,” Dragic said. “He was so funny but one of those anecdotes, I always had to carry his keyboard when we were going away.
“It’s this big keyboard. From the bus to the plane, from the plane to the hotel. A few times my room was next to his and I never heard him play on it.”
After carrying around the keyboard for his entire rookie season, Dragic finally broke down and asked if Shaq ever played it.
“He said, ‘No … it doesn’t work, It’s broke.’ I had to carry this keyboard the whole season and that was my rookie duties, but you know I’m really happy I was a part of that team, and to get to know Shaq. He’s a character.”
Maybe the keyboard was a good luck charm for the big man. He did make the All-Star Game that season that year.
If anything, Dragic’s rookie duties may have eased any kind of strain on Shaq’s wrist, as the center recorded his best shooting percentage over at least 54 games as a pro (60.9%). O’Neal also averaged 17.8 points and 8.4 rebounds per game.
Dragic, on the other hand, averaged 4.5 points, 2.0 assists and 1.9 rebounds in 55 games played (one start) as he got his feet wet in the NBA.
The Suns went 46-36 that year and missed the playoffs.