'Prayers Going Up': Shaquille O'Neal Sparks Concern with Mysterious Hospital Photo
Beloved basketball legend Shaquille O’Neal triggered widespread concern over his health after he posted an alarming photo to social media on Sunday with no context.
O’Neal, who has played for six NBA teams over an illustrious 19-year career, sparked concern when he tweeted that he would always be watching his “Inside the NBA” co-hosts, Ernie Johnson and Candace Parker.
While the message itself felt random, the photo accompanying it gave the message some jarring context.
i’m always watching @TurnerSportsEJ and @Candace_Parker miss y’all pic.twitter.com/4tY4X6v1Pj
— SHAQ (@SHAQ) March 19, 2023
The accompanying image showed the 7-foot-2 O’Neal lying in a hospital bed, with his eyes closed.
Again, no initial context was given with this tweet, sparking widespread concern.
Orlando radio host Greg Warmoth immediately responded that he was keeping O’Neal in his prayers. (O’Neal was drafted by the Orlando Magic and played his first four seasons for them.)
“Get well soon big fella!! Prayers going up now,” Warmoth said.
Get well soon big fella!! Prayers going up now
— Greg Warmoth (@gwarmothwftv) March 19, 2023
Fellow NBA retiree and former Indiana Pacers center Roy Hibbert tweeted to O’Neal, asking if he was “good.”
“U good big man?” he said.
U good big man?
— Roy Hibbert (@Roy_Meets_World) March 19, 2023
Musician Matthew Mayer offered similar support.
Hope you ok, Big Man ❤️👊🙏
— Matthew Mayer (@mayersolopiano) March 19, 2023
Even a quick glance at the responses to Shaq’s ominous photo showed an outpouring of general support.
That’s not particularly surprising given that O’Neal drew thousands of fans when he was in the midst of winning four NBA titles.
But even in retirement, O’Neal has continued to garner fans outside of the basketball world for his common sense values, blue-collar mentality and, of course, his wicked sense of humor.
Good news for all those fans: The aforementioned Ernie Johnson was able to provide an update on O’Neal.
According to multiple reports, including from Sports Illustrated and Awful Announcing’s Ken Fang, Johnson revealed that his behemoth co-host had undergone hip replacement surgery over one of the weekend’s March Madness studio show broadcasts.
EJ said in the NCAA Tournament studio that Shaq is undergoing a hip replacement. https://t.co/2r4gTv4Jvz
— Ken Fang — Very Asian (@fangsbites) March 20, 2023
While there is no reason not to believe Johnson, there has been no official word on the status of O’Neal’s health otherwise.
O’Neal played in the NBA from 1992 to 2011 after an illustrious three-year stint at Louisiana State University helped O’Neal get drafted first overall by the Magic in 1992.
While O’Neal was a dominant force in Orlando, it wasn’t until he joined the Los Angeles Lakers as a free agent that he cemented a Hall of Fame career, winning three championships and MVP honors in each one of those titles.
O’Neal would be traded to the Miami Heat, where he would win his final championship by coming back from a 2-0 deficit in the 2006 NBA Finals against the Dallas Mavericks.
From there, O’Neal never quite captured his prior glory, bouncing around the league (he additionally played for the Phoenix Suns, Cleveland Cavaliers and Boston Celtics, to diminishing returns with each subsequent stop) before retiring after the 2011 season.
Since then, O’Neal has become an iconic part of the popular “Inside the NBA” studio show that precedes most TNT broadcasts of NBA games. In particular, fans are especially fond of the brotherly love/hate relationship O’Neal has with fellow NBA legend Charles Barkley.
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