During his playing days, it was easy to identify Shaquille O’Neal – the most dominant position in NBA One of the greatest players in the history of the league. It is not so simple nowadays.
Since retiring from professional basketball 11 years ago, O’Neill has branched out and continued projects in all kinds of spaces; To the point that it does not fit everything LinkedIn profile.
The 50-year-old holds an MBA and PHD degree (his thesis on “How Leaders Use Humor or Aggression in Leadership Styles”). He is the founder of the Big Chicken franchise and owns 155 Five Guys Burger Knucklesand 17 Auntie Ann’s Biscuits and several Papa John’s establishments. It hits the floors at music festivals around the world Like DJ Dieseland collaborated on the lines of fashion, jewelry, technology products and children’s books.
Not that he forgot about basketball: He became a minority owner of the Sacramento Kings in 2013, before selling his stake earlier this year, is an analyst at TNT’s beloved Inside the NBA and co-host of The Big Podcast with Shaq.
And the list goes on and on.
“I’m just excited to have the opportunity to do things that touch people, make people smile, and have a good time,” O’Neill told the Guardian in an interview in Abu Dhabi, where he was helping to promote two pre-season NBA games. in the Gulf for the first time. “[NBA commissioner] Adam Silver could have called a lot of NBA players but he called me here and I’m glad I came.”
O’Neill says he began planning life after basketball early in the second season of his 19-year NBA career.
“Growing up, you should always have something to turn to,” he explains. “My parents were so cool, what if you cut yourself? What if you’re not that good? What are you going to do? Save some of that money. No, I don’t want a new car, you bought me one last year, save your money. So we’ll always think about that.”
“And then I was, at some point, I was going to have to retire, and I would love to live the same lifestyle. When you come out of nothing and then you have everything, you want to keep everything. How do I keep it all? You have to develop clever and creative ways to make sure Whether my mom keeps that house I just bought for her or my sister keeps the car she got.”
O’Neill places great value on partnering with the right people and making sure he educates himself well in financial literacy.
“The best thing that happened to me was that I bought a book called A Dummies’ Guide to Starting Your Own Business, and my favorite class was Joint Ventures. Because I’m a true believer in the hard stuff, you can break it down to its simplest form,” he says.
After he finds out that I’m Egyptian, he adds: “For example, if I were to start a media publication in Egypt, I would call you, because that’s what you do. You run it, you’ll be the president, you’ll be the CEO and you’ll report to me, and it’s all going to be instead of me living in Atlanta trying to figure out what’s going on in Egypt when you’re there.”
Despite his wide range of projects, O’Neal is still very close to the NBA.
Like the rest of the world, he admired the 7-foot-2-inch French teenager Victor Wimpanyama, Most exciting prospect in years and dead testimony To pick #1 overall in the 2023 NBA Draft.
“Great player, the sky is the limit for this guy,” says O’Neill of Wimpanyama. “At some point he’s going to have to take it to every level. When I came in, I was really good. Then someone said you have to get better. Then finally they said, ‘Shaq is a great player.’ But I wanted to become greater than that. Then I wanted to become the greatest. And then I wanted to be the greatest of all. So if he had that mentality, he’d probably be one of the best guys ever.
He has all the tools: [height], dribbling, shooting, fading… If he’s playing that way, no one can stop him. But at some point you have to stay – you can’t be satisfied with where you are.”
O’Neill misses the days when basketball was about battles between top players under the edge. He blames himself for the game’s evolution away from the physical gameplay.
“I miss those big competitions and chuckle at the fact that the big guys don’t want to play indoors anymore and it’s entirely my fault,” says the four-time NBA champion. “Because you are a product of your environment; so when I was watching the top guys play, they fought in the middle. It was like, ‘Go in the middle. Right?’ But then when I came in and started hitting people, the big guys started coming out.
“So you look at guys like Victor [Wembanyama] Now, he grew up watching Dirk [Nowitzki]. He grew up watching Tim Duncan and [Kevin] Garnett. They played it. So that’s all they know.”
O’Neill insists that he will still play the same physical game at this age.
“All those shooters… who just tell me you don’t like calling. I was just going to hit you. Now you’re trying to guard me, you don’t have those legs and your arms are aching, your bullet won’t fall as it is,” he says.
The rivalries between teams aren’t what they used to be in the NBA – something Silver admits “we’ve been thinking about a lot.” While Silver notes that rivalry between teams cannot be created artificially, the league will attempt to promote “competition games” if they arise.
O’Neill believes that the best players are now under so much pressure to win the NBA title that they often transfer teams, in search of a championship win.
“It’s disappointing to be a great player and not have a championship; especially when you keep trying to do it yourself and you can’t do it, now you have to go for what’s easy; hey, I’m going to team up with this guy’s team or team up with this guy,” O’Neill says. That man”.
“We, all veterans, don’t like it because we like competition. I loved trying to see the Lakers beat Detroit. Trying to see Detroit beat the Bulls, trying to see us beat Spurs, it’s a competition. So a lot of guys now because of the pressure, they’re as a team.” One “.
One player who has stayed put is Giannis Antetokounmo, who has been with the Milwaukee Bucks since they drafted him in 2013. In 2021, he helped guide them to their first NBA title in 50 years.
O’Neill is a huge fan of the Greek star and the feeling is mutual. When Antetokounmpo was recently asked what traits he would take from different legends, he chose O’Neal Dominance.
Is there anything O’Neill would have liked to get from Antetokounmpo when he was a player?
“I was Giannis before Giannis,” O’Neill said. “Only in our time, they didn’t want to dodge the big players. Every now and then I would tell the coach to get angry and I would take him from coast to coast and throw him. But I did it mainly for the audience because it was a point in the game where the game was boring and it felt like dad and son or My dad and daughter didn’t get their money; my job was to get the fans back and get people into the game.”
More than a decade after his retirement, O’Neill is still getting fans back on their feet; Even in Abu Dhabi, where he roamed the masses wherever he went.
Whether it’s Dr. O’Neill, DJ Diesel, or just Shack; It will always be successful, fun and dominant.