Oberst and O'Neal have been close since the summer of 2003. That's when Oberst, one of the 10 winners of O'Neal's annual Nestle Crunch Hot Shots Camp, made his boldest move.
Then 12, a mere 51 pounds after gutting out his first bout of cancer treatment, he rolled a ball O'Neal's way and glared at him -- challenging the 325-pound NBA superstar to pick it up and go one-on-one.
O'Neal scowled back at the audacious kid. They went head-to-head. Oberst, a dribbling whiz, bounced the ball through O'Neal's legs and made a layup.
They've been friends ever since. O'Neal learned Oberst had cancer a little later. In 2004 and 2005, O'Neal flew Oberst to the camp even though he technically wasn't eligible to enter the contest.
The friendship blossomed. O'Neal makes sure Oberst has tickets whenever his team comes to Portland. Oberst has O'Neal's cell number and e-mail address. They talk about everything.