AUSTIN -- It didn't take Charles Breithaupt very long to come to the conclusion that Shaquille O'Neal is the greatest athlete to participate in University Interscholastic League athletics in the state of Texas.
"We saw Earl Campbell, who obviously is our football icon,'' said Breithaupt, the executive director of the UIL. "But he doesn’t have a Super Bowl ring.
"But Shaq has four (NBA titles) and he has multiple MVP awards and he’s got a gold medal. I don’t know of any other athlete in Texas, I don’t know of any athlete in the world, that has that.''
The UIL honored O'Neal and his San Antonio Cole High School team on Saturday at the Erwin Center for winning the 1989 Class 3A state title.
Breithaupt was impressed that O'Neal took time from his busy schedule to attend the 25th-year anniversary of Cole capturing the state title. He also was impressed with something else about O'Neal.
"How many personalities are recognizable by one name?,'' Breithaupt asked. "Shaq, Magic, Larry -- that’s the basketball world.
"Tiger, Jack -- that’s the golf world. And right now Peyton in football. But there he is right there, and just the personalities in whatever he’s done whether it’s movies, whether its acting. He just has people gravitating to him. He’s just a magnet.''
A "magnet'' that turned a lot of heads Saturday at the Erwin Center.
Breithaupt knows a busy man like O'Neal could have been anywhere in the world on Saturday. But he chose to be in Austin for the first time since leading Cole to that '89 state crown.
O'Neal also said for now being back in Austin to be honored 25 years after he reached the mountaintop at Cole is his most treasured award.
It says that his experience here was special,'' Breithaupt said. "The bonds that he had with his teammates and with his coaches, and experience he had here winning a title, for him to say that,
that this may be No. 1 on his list meant a lot to us.
"He could have done a lot of things. I know South by Southwest (music festival) is going on (in Austin). There are things he could be doing, and he’s got a lot of business interest, so for him to be here meant the
world to us.''
-- Dwain Price
Follow me on Twitter