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Bucs Teammates Share Unique Link to Two NBA Legends

Two Tampa Bay Buccaneers teammates share a unique link to two of the greatest centers in NBA history.

Linebacker Shaq Barrett and newly acquired offensive lineman Shaq Mason were both named after Basketball Hall of Famers Shaquille O'Neal and Hakeem Olajuwon, according to the Athletic's Bucs beat reporter Greg Auman.

"This is insane. We mentioned that new Bucs guard Shaq Mason is Shaquille Olajuwon Mason, named after the two former NBA stars. Well, his new teammate, Bucs pass-rusher Shaq Barrett, was born a year earlier in 1992, and is Shaquil Akeem Barrett, named after the same two players," Auman tweeted on Thursday (March 24).

Olajuwon initially went by "Akeem" but altered it to the more conventional spelling of "Hakeem" upon becoming a more devout Muslim in 1991, stating, ''I just want to go back to using the original spelling, the way it is meant to be spelled in Arabic," via the Chicago Tribune.

The Nigerian-born center was already established as one of the NBA's best centers, while O'Neal was the No. 1 overall pick for the Orlando Magic and began a dominant rookie season at the time of Barrett's birth on November 17, 1992. Mason was born on August 28, 1993, when both players were two of the league's biggest stars.

In 2017, Sports Illustrated published an article featuring both players and other athletes who shared their first name to acknowledge the popularity of "Shaq" since the center's NBA and pop culture dominance.

The Buccaneers acquired Mason in a trade with the New England Patriots earlier this month, reuniting with current Bucs and longtime former Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.

The 28-year-old lineman member of the Patriots' Super Bowl lI and LIII teams and has started 98 of the 103 games he's appeared in during his NFL career.

Barrett is also a two-time Super Bowl champion, having won with the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl 50 and Tampa Bay in Super Bowl LV.

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