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Kristen Ledlow on Shaq, growing up a Magic fan, and NBA cats

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The NBA Inside Stuff host and NBA TV reporter spoke to OPP in advance of Saturday's Shaquille O'Neal-centric episode of Inside Stuff.

Kristen Ledlow
Kristen Ledlow
Turner Sports

Saturday's edition of NBA Inside Stuff, airing at noon Eastern on NBA TV, features Inside Stuff host and NBA TV reporter Kristen Ledlow kicking it with formerOrlando Magic star Shaquille O'Neal at his Orlando-area home... and also getting a chance at revenge in a free-throw shooting contest.

"About a year and a half ago ago, Shaq beat me in a free-throw contest, and for a year and a half I've had people asking me, 'how can you lose to Shaq in a free-throw contest?'" said Ledlow. "So I challenged him to a rematch, in his home. And you'll get to see how that went down in this episode."

In advance of Saturday's show and its high-stakes foul shooting, Ledlow joined Orlando Pinstriped Post for a telephone interview Friday afternoon. What follows is an edited transcript of our conversation.

Evan Dunlap, Orlando Pinstriped Post: In doing some research for this interview, I came across a photo you posted on your Twitter just a few moments ago. It's of you and Shaq on what looks like a monstrous go-kart? What's going on there?

Kristen Ledlow, NBA Inside Stuff: Oh, no no no. You can't disrespect Shaq by calling that a go-kart. That's actually a huge motorcycle... he just makes it look small. It does have three wheels, but it's a motorcycle. It's really fast. I know because we took it for a spin around the block.

Dunlap: So you're shooting NBA Inside Stuff in Orlando, at Shaq's house.

Ledlow: Right. Shaq is my guest co-host this week, and we're just going spend some time with hom and take a look at his career and where it got started here in Orlando. He was also often featured on the original Inside Stuff back in the day, so we had a chance to look at some old footage of him on the show.

Dunlap: My understanding is that Grant Hill is your usual co-host. Where's Grant this week?

Ledlow: Grant is serving on the lead commentator team for the NCAA Tournament, so he's on the road this week and for the next few weeks calling the Final Four on TBS and the National Championship Game on CBS. So with Grant out being an NCAA figurehead, we thought we'd have Shaq co-host this week. Because when you think Shaq, you think entertainment.

Dunlap: Now the Magic are honoring Shaq by putting him in their Hall of Fame later this afternoon. And I get the sense that most Magic fans support the idea, but some of them don't, given how things went at the end of his time in Orlando. I know you work with Shaq, but...

Ledlow, laughing: Do you think there's any other way I'm going to answer this question?

Dunlap: ... can you explain your thoughts on the Magic honoring Shaq?

"Shaq absolutely deserves this honor .... He's the best to ever put on the blue and white." Kristen Ledlow on Shaquille O'Neal

Ledlow: Shaq absolutely deserves this honor. He's done so much for the sport of basketball from the time he was in high school to his years at LSU and his time in the NBA. He should be honored in Orlando and he should be honored in L.A. He's the best to ever put on the blue and white.

Dunlap: My thing is you can't have something called the Orlando Magic Hall of Fame and not have Shaq in there. For all he did, you know, getting the Magic to the Finals and everything. Are you gonna be there for the ceremony today?

Ledlow: No, I have to get back on the road. But when I left Shaq's house, he was actually on his way to that.

Dunlap: If you had to pick an all-time Magic starting five, who would you go with? Hit me with your two guards and three frontcourt players.

Ledlow: Oh, Jeez. Let's see. Let's go with Penny [Hardaway], Shaq, T-Mac [Tracy McGrady], D[ennis] Scott... This is not a softball question. Can I go with Jameer [Nelson] at the point?

Dunlap: Absolutely. I always like to ask this question to other writers, friends, fans, and I usually get similar answers. But this is the first time I've ever heard this combination. I actually like this group though, with D. Scott at the four. I'm not sure how that'd work defensively, but that group could play in today's NBA.

Ledlow: Oh, for sure. He can do a lot on offense with his three-point shooting. I went with a combination of the best players and also my favorites. Can I have Grant Hill as my sixth man off the bench?

Dunlap: I was just about to ask you to pick a sixth man, so yes. You know, you need Grant in that locker room to handle the media.

Ledlow: Of course, the most shining moments of Grant's career came with Detroit and Phoenix, and on NBA Inside Stuff.

Dunlap: So it's my understanding you grew up a Magic fan. And we're roughly the same age, so... how did you become a Magic fan? Was it those Penny/Shaq teams?

Ledlow: Yeah, so I'm from Tallahassee, but I grew up in Orlando... actually, just outside Orlando, excuse me... from when I was in second grade to high school. So they were my team. I had a T-Mac jersey. I have a cat named Magic. I had a Grant Hill jersey. So I supported them.

Dunlap: About that cat. I think cats are absolutely, like, the best pet. And I've found that very few NBA players have cats. Why do you think that is? What's going on there?

Ledlow: Well, cats are absolutely the greatest pet. And I think it takes a certain kind of person to really appreciate cats. I guess maybe NBA players aren't quite there yet. That's why I'm trying to get Magic internet famous.

Dunlap: Kristen, thanks so much for joining me today. I appreciate it.

Ledlow: Thank you!

Our thanks to Kristen for her time and consideration. You can catch her interview with Shaq, as well as their free-throw contest, on NBA Inside Stuff on Saturday, March 28th, at noon Eastern. As I told Kristen, if Shaq loses to her when he has home-court advantage in the most literal sense of the term, he's no longer allowed to talk smack to her ever, for any reason, until the end of time.

The episode will also feature stories on Nick Young and his unique off-court style, Michael Carter-Williams in a "Court Vision" segment, and DeAndre Jordan offering some rebounding tips.

Keep up with all of our Magic coverage