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Dwyane Wade says Shaquille O'Neal helped change his career when he joined the Heat in 2004.
O'Neal, who Wade called the "8th wonder of the world," told Wade he'd become one of the NBA's best guards.
Wade said O'Neal's comments inspired him, and they won a championship the following season.
Adding a player of Shaquille O'Neal's stature changes a team's outlook, and that was certainly the case for Dwyane Wade and the Miami Heat.
Wade was in his second year in the league when the Miami Heat acquired O'Neal from the Los Angeles Lakers in a blockbuster trade.
Wade wrote in his new photo memoir, "Dwyane," O'Neal's presence in Miami added a "sense of urgency" to the entire franchise.
"Big Fella didn't come to South Beach just for the weather," Wade wrote. "We all knew he wanted more hardware.'
While speaking to Insider to promote his memoir, Wade said that O'Neal instilled him with confidence by telling Wade he would become one of the greatest guards ever to play.
"To have that guy tell me that I'm going to be one of the greatest," Wade said, "To have that guy tell me that he's going to turn me into one of the best shooting guards ever play the game and all these things, can you imagine my confidence? Can you imagine where the things he said to me took me?"
After all, Wade said at the time, O'Neal was much more than just a basketball player.
"Shaq was a star," Wade said. "Like, Shaq was not just a basketball player. You know what I'm saying? You got some guys who are known in a basketball space, and that's it. Shaq is known all around the world. Every person that experienced Shaq when we played together, it was like a moment of, you know, you get the chance to check off the bucket list of watching, seeing one of the eight wonders in a world. He had that kind of effect on people."
O'Neal and Wade's partnership was impactful right away. In 2004-05, the Heat lost to the Detroit Pistons in the Eastern Conference Finals.
The following season they beat the Dallas Mavericks in the Finals, with Wade taking over in Games 5 and 6. Wade averaged 34 points per game in the series and shot 97 free throws, controlling the pace of the game and putting the Mavs on their heels. He lived up to O'Neal's declaration that he would become one of the NBA's best guards.
Wade told Insider he was lucky that he caught O'Neal at a time in O'Neal's career where he only wanted to win.
"I caught Shaq at the right time in his career ... and I was able to benefit from a lot of it," Wade said.
Read the original article on Insider