Translator: Nyoi-Bo Studio Editor: Nyoi-Bo Studio
Li Du had two options in his plan to deal with the sculpture. He wanted to give it either to Kobe or to O’Neal.
Of course, he could also choose to sell it. The sculpture was extraordinary and could easily fetch him a few hundred thousand.
However, that sum of money was nothing to him. He would rather use the sculpture to reconcile the two men. It was more important to build relationships than earn a small sum of money.
For example, if he managed to build a relationship with Kobe, he could equate that to bringing in a top customer for Harry Winston. For the last two years, Kobe had spent more than 200,000 US dollars on luxury items and brought in even more customers. The value of that was much higher than a one-time gain.
He analyzed the situation. Kobe was temperamental and arrogant, and would not take the initiative to bow down to O’Neal. O’Neal’s personality was more cheerful and friendly. Besides, he had always been in a dominant position in the process of improving their relationship.
After this consideration, he decided to give the sculpture to O’Neal, and also to start nurturing a relationship between himself and O’Neal.
Li Du put his plan into action swiftly. It was just perfect that O’Neal was also staying in Los Angeles. After retiring, he had chosen to sign a long-term contract with the TV network, TNT. He was hosting a segment named ‘NBA Insider’ with past NBA stars like Charles Barkley, Kenny Smith, and others.
Li Du rang up James and took a photo of the sculpture for him to see. Through James, he would be able to link up with O’Neal.
James knew O’Neal very well. The two of them had been teammates, but that had not turned out too successful. The team that they formed never managed to win the championship.
After seeing the photo, James, too, became interested. James was considerate and thorough in what he did. Not only did he give Li Du O’Neal’s address and phone number, he even rang up O’Neal to say that a friend intended to surprise him with a gift.
After James ended his call, Li Du rang up O’Neal. The two parties arranged to meet in an old bungalow that O’Neal had in Los Angeles.
As a rich man in the sports industry, O’Neal was good at managing his finances. Back when he was playing basketball in Los Angeles, he had bought many properties and waited for them to increase in value. He then made a tidy sum of money from his assets.
His mansion was located in Beverly Hills, and the main building area amounted to 7,000 square feet, or 650 square meters, with additional 2,000 square meters of green space outside. Li Du arrived after driving over and inspected the place with a semi-professional eye. The price of this luxury home had to be more than 10 million.
There was a model of Superman at O’Neal’s door. Li Du stopped his car at the door and Superman turned its head. After its eyes rolled around twice, the door opened up.
Li Du was shocked. After a careful look, he realized that a security camera was hidden behind Superman’s eyes.
He stopped and got off at the carpark, while the truck followed behind. Then, a black man who looked tougher than Godzilla appeared.
Of course, that was O’Neal himself. Li Du had been a fan of O’Neal since high school. However, he had only seen O’Neal on the television before. It was different in real life. In reality, O’Neal was like a giant, about twice the size of Godzilla!
The curious thing was that O’Neal had appeared on a Segway. Li Du felt that the Segway company should get O’Neal to be their spokesperson. It was impressive and showed the quality of the Segway as it could take O’Neal’s size and weight.
“Mr. Li?” O’Neal asked.
Li Du grinned and said, “Hello, Shaquille, I am Li. Very pleased to meet you.”
O’Neal shook hands with him, his enormous palms dwarfing Li Du’s hands by comparison.
Unlike Kobe and James, O’Neal had a different character. He looked more passionate, outgoing and friendly. The two of them had just met and O’Neal had already acted like they were long-time friends.
Li Du had studied the character of humans previously. Such a character was most tricky. What they express might not be what they feel.
However, the good side of such a character was that it would be easy and quick to get closer. Very soon, the two of them looked like they were old pals with a close relationship.
Under such circumstances, when O’Neal suggested that he wanted to look at the gift, it would feel natural and not awkward.
Li Du said, “Before I give it to you, I want to explain that when I was younger, I was a loyal basketball fanatic. Or more accurately, I was Kobe’s and your loyal fan.”
O’Neal laughed. “I’m very flattered.”
Li Du said, “Hence, when you and Kobe broke up, I and other fans like me were very distraught. We hope that someday, we would be able to see you guys become friends again.”
O’Neal was still smiling. He said, “I’m still friends with Kobe. Buddy, don’t be bluffed by the d*mned media. They only report things that can gain them more rating. Don’t trust them.”
Li Du said, “That’s fantastic. However, in that case, my gift will not be as meaningful.”
Li Du nodded and Godzilla and Big Quinn opened the door of the truck. The marble sculpture that had been assembled previously appeared before them.
Seeing the sculpture, O’Neal’s smile froze. He stared wide-eyed at the statue for a whole two minutes. Then he turned and asked, “This is the gift?”
Li Du nodded. “That’s right. That’s my gift to you. I had thought that perhaps there’s still some distance between Kobe and you, you could give this sculpture to him and it might help improve the relationship between you two.”
O’Neal reached out to touch the sculpture. After confirming that it was real marble, O’Neal exclaimed, “It’s actually made of marble! God, is this your creation?”
Li Du shook his head and told him how the sculpture came into his hands.
He did not say that he found the sculpture in a bungalow and only said that he recently bought a large manor and that the sculpture was found in the basement of the house.
In front of these stars, it would be good for him to reveal his wealth a little to gain their favor.
O’Neal saw the signature on the marble court floor. He became a little emotional and said, “Oh, I am so sorry. We hurt some guys who loved us.”
Caressing the sculpture, O’Neal turned and asked, “Are you sure about gifting it to me?”
Li Du said, “You’re the one this was meant for, you and Kobe.”
O’Neal smiled and said, “Follow me, buddy, don’t stand there. The weather is hot. Look at my fat, it’s about to melt. It’s not been easy for me to gain it, and I can’t ruin it now. Let’s go, get in and have a drink and check some things out.”
The two of them went together, and Li Du asked, “Are you not going to get on the Segway?”
O’Neal smiled and said, “I was on the Segway to show off that I have a big house, but in front of a young man who has a manor, I had better stay low-key.”
The house was huge and there were many levels. After they entered the house, O’Neal’s housekeeper served them some cold beverages. Then O’Neal asked, “Do you want to rest? If you aren’t tired, I can show you around this place.”