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Shaquille O’Neal was supposed to be at the party that The Notorious B.I.G. hosted the night he was murdered. 20 years later he wonder if thing would be different had he showed up.

In March 1997 Shaquille O’Neal was on the back end of playing in his first season as a Los Angeles Laker. By that time then 25-year old superstar was already known for being on the city’s party scene just as much as being on the basketball court. So when his friend The Notorious B.I.G. hosted a Soul Train Awards after party on the night of March 8, he was expected to be there. However, Shaq decided to take a quick nap before hitting the party. That nap led to him sleeping through the whole night and missing the party altogether.

He didn’t wake up until his mother called him to see if her baby was OK, because she just heard that The Notorious B.I.G. had just got shot.

In a story written by The Undefeated‘s Justin Tinsley, several Los Angeles area athletes were asked what they were doing around the time Biggie was shot and the impact his death had on the city. Shaq remembers it all too well and ponders if Biggie would still be alive had he been at the party.

“I don’t say I could’ve prevented it,” say Shaq who warned Biggie to “be careful.”

“I was just saying … if I was out there by the car, would they still have fired? That’s the only thing I would say to myself…I don’t wanna make it seem like I could’ve saved him…I don’t wanna make it seem like if I was there, the shooters wouldn’t have shot. If I was there by the truck, after we all left and I’m dapping him up, would they still have shot?”

Shaq’s Laker teammates Nick Van Exel and Corey Blount were also interviewed for the piece, as well as former NBA player Baron Davis who was still in high school at the time. All of them spoke on how Biggie’s death cast a dark shadow over the city just as people were starting to get over the death of his friend-turned-foe Tupac Shakur six months prior.

Read the entire story here.

Photo: Screenshot