When Shaquille O”Neal invited Josh Moore to work out at his lavish home in Los Angeles this summer, Moore found out that his resemblance to the NBA All-Star extended further than just body and shoe size.
They share the same blood. Moore knew that they had been delivered by the same doctor, but discovered that he and the former NBA Most Valuable Player are related through cousins. And after breaking down Moore through watching tape and individual workouts, O”Neal told him that the comparisons don”t end there.
“I guess he sees a lot of himself in me,” Moore said. He remembers O”Neal telling him, “”That was me when I was younger” and that when he was a freshman in college, he made a lot of the same mistakes.”
Both big men were forced to grow into huge frames and size 21 shoes after late growth spurts, making their footwork and style of play very important in the college game. O”Neal has adapted to his size in fine fashion, and had some tips for Moore to do the same.
“He told me to play a little softer,” Moore said. “He said, “You don”t have to be aggressive. Make guys want to step up and play you strongly because the guys who play you softly, you”re playing too aggressively and you get fouls every time.” “
Moore and O”Neal worked out three times a day, and ate breakfast, lunch and dinner together something he”ll never forget.
“Just being with him every day, learning how he acts, learning his mentality was huge,” Moore said. “That”s a big factor in anything I”m trying to do.
“Waking up and talking to him in the morning and eating breakfast with him was an experience because this guy will be in the record books, this guy will be in the Hall of Fame, this guy will be everything I want to be.”
Moore said that while he enjoyed the delicious cooking of O”Neal”s personal chef, Thomas, whom Moore labels, “the best chef on the west side of the Mississippi,” there wasn”t much free time.
While Moore didn”t attend the Pete Newell Big Man Camp in August as he originally planned, he still had an active summer in order to prepare himself for a year of “heightened responsibility.”
The camp “costs money, and I”m not rich,” Moore said. “I didn”t go because of my injuries but I played in the summer leagues back in Jersey and here.”
Michigan coach Tommy Amaker said that Moore”s chronic back problems, most likely caused by a herniated disk, have kept him out of about half the drills. But Moore said he isn”t too concerned.
“I”m all right,” Moore said. “It”s nothing a little Robotussin couldn”t cure.”
And if Moore sees some action on Sunday in Michigan”s first exhibition of the season, he may run into a familiar foe down low. Former Michigan center Josh Asselin leads his traveling team, EA Sports All-Stars, into Crisler Area at 2 p.m. Asselin”s graduation this past spring has left Michigan lacking in depth in the front court, and the former Wolverine will look to ruin Amaker”s Michigan coaching debut.
The EA All-Stars, who lost in their first game on Wednesday, 84-74, to Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and will be playing their second game in a challenging 11-game schedule that will have them visiting Missouri, Notre Dame, Wisconsin and Texas. But Michigan”s primary challenge will be taking strides in formulating a starting lineup before its first regular season game on Nov. 16 against Oakland. Amaker said there”s competition at point guard, and with the chance to play against someone other than themselves, the coaching staff will be able to find out who”s healthy and which freshmen are ready to step in.
“Any coach, you try to be loyal to your seniors and give them first shot,” said Michigan assistant coach Chuck Swenson. “But there”s only two true scholarship players in the senior class (Leon Jones and Chris Young).”