Sunday's final episodes of "The Last Dance" brought about a wave of nostalgia for '90s-era basketball — and inadvertently triggered a painful memory for former Jazz center Greg Ostertag.
Prior to the start of Sunday's episodes, the NBA's social media accounts were taken over by Ahmad Rashad and a host of former league stars in a segement called "Inside Stuff's '90s Reunion." The call, which consisted of Rashad and 20-plus NBA players of yesteryear, was equal parts fascinating and hilarious. Things got slightly more serious, however, when Charles Barkley asked players who they were surprised never turned out to be stars.
That's when Karl Malone, who featured heavily in the final two episodes of "The Last Dance," recalled how Shaquille O'Neal "f—ed Greg Ostertag up for the rest of his life." That was retribution after Ostertag — who is 7-2, 280 pounds, by the way — "started yacking" the previous year as Utah blanked Los Angeles 4-0 in Western Conference finals.
As Malone tells it, O'Neal approached Malone before the game and said, "'Hey, if I see that motherf—er I'm going to slap the s— out of him.' And he is not lying. We're waiting on (Ostertag) to come out for the preseason, on the shootaround, and Shaq walked right to him. 'Man, I told you to quit talking that s—.'
"Before we could even respond, Ostertag's on the ground looking for his contact. It ruined him for the rest of our career."
Karl Malone tells the story of when Shaquille O’Neal “f**ked up Greg Ostertag for the rest of his life”. pic.twitter.com/D0xdtb0Kmy— Rob Perez (@WorldWideWob) May 18, 2020
John Stockton and O'Neal both corroborated Malone's story on the call — Stockton with arms crossed, and O'Neal with a big smile on his face. Interestingly, Malone said he challenged Ostertag to go after O'Neal during the game, saying he'd even pay his fine. It appears Ostertag — who averaged 4.6 points, 5.5 rebounds and 1.7 blocks over his 11-year career — did not rise to Malone's challenge.
"'You got to state your allegiate, son,'" Malone told Ostertag. "'You got to go hit him or something.' You ruined Ostertag for the rest of his career."