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Trevor Winter was more known for his Gophers career, but he also had a memorable cup of coffee with the Timberwolves.

Jeff Wheeler, Star Tribune

TODAY TREVOR WINTER'S NBA EXPERIENCE

Moments of glory series: Trevor Winter's NBA job? Hack-a-Shaq

  • Article by: BRIAN STENSAAS
  • Star Tribune
  • June 4, 2012 - 5:54 AM
The most enduring athletes in Minnesota history are well-known. Names like Puckett, Killebrew and Tarkenton bring about images of long-term success. But what about those with local ties who only had a chance meeting with the big time? Here we remember their one victory, their one appearance -- their one moment. Today: Trevor Winter's NBA experience.

For a man who loves to hear himself talk, Shaquille O'Neal didn't say much to Trevor Winter during their brief encounter.

"People hear I played in the NBA, and I always get asked who I played against," Winter said. "My answer is always Shaq, because that's pretty much it."

The next question, inevitably, is what kind of guy the 15-time NBA All-Star was.

"Truthfully," Winter said, "you don't get to know a lot about a person in five minutes."

This is not a facetious statement by Winter, who these days is among the world's only 7-foot-tall medical salesmen. On March 16, 1999, the Slayton, Minn., native and former Gopher was activated by the Timberwolves for one reason: Hack Shaq.

During the team's pregame meeting, Winter was told tongue-in-cheek he would be fined a set amount of money for every foul he didn't make on O'Neal.

"They needed my fouls," Winter said. "And I thought what the heck. I was excited to get out there."

Winter checked in midway through the game at Target Center, played 5 minutes and picked up five fouls against the Lakers big man.

"He looks big on TV but even for a 7-foot, 300-pound guy like I was, he made me feel small," Winter said. "A giant of a man."

On the first play of his first NBA action, O'Neal took the ball inside and dunked on Winter. Hard.

"It happened so fast I don't even think [TV] was back from commercial," Winter said. "The pace of the game was fast. Everything was kind of a blur after that."

Winter also collected three rebounds in his debut. Despite having a foul left, he was lifted after five minutes ("They were happy with my showing," he said) and did not return back into that game -- or ever again.

He was deactivated the next day and his career NBA stats always will read five minutes, five fouls.

"It was a great experience, and I owe a lot to coach [Flip] Saunders for believing in me enough to be with the team," said Winter, who made the Wolves roster after coming to camp from the Fargo-Moorhead Beez of the now-defunct International Basketball Association. "I'm not sure if I'd call this an honor or what. It sure is interesting. All I know is I take pride in playing at all three levels of basketball in Minnesota."

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