The NBA Finals Game 2 was set to play on Sunday night in Oakland. Fans at Oracle Arena awaited the tip-off to witness a great Finals rematch between the Cavaliers and the Warriors.
But first, the NBA held a moment of silence to honor the late "greatest" boxer to ever step into the ring, Muhammad Ali.
Before the game, NBA analysts Shaquille O'Neal, Grant Hill (who both wore "GOAT" shirts to honor Ali) and Kenny Smith were on NBA TV to discuss their fondest memories of meeting Ali. They each described how The Champ was ubiquitously known by his peers for his jovial, kind personality. Shaq gave his favorite story about Ali as a civil rights leader, who once traveled to Kuwait—which had been invaded by the late Iraq dictator Saddam Hussein shortly before the Gulf War—and single-handedly negotiated for 15 American hostages to be freed in 1990.
“He’s definitely my hero. My kids’ hero. My family’s hero. He will definitely be missed but never forgotten," Shaq said.
They even showcased a statement from NBA legends Bill Russell, who is reeling from the death of his beloved friend, which detailed how the two first met after Ali won a gold medal in the 1960 Olympic Games.
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