VIBE Q: STILL BUSTIN’ BALLS
POSTRETIREMENT, SHAQUILLE O’NEAL’S CANDOR HASN’T GONE DORMANT. THE NEWEST ADDITION TO INSIDE THE NBA PICKS UP A FEW FLAGRANT FOULS WHILE ADDRESSING HIS LEGACY, PAT RILEY, RAPPING AND HOW HE GOT WHACKED BY A CERTAIN TWO-GUARD -- Thomas Golianpoulos
SHAQUILLE O’NEAL HAD a tumultuous relationship with the media during his playing days, getting into tiffs with Bill Walton, Skip Bayless and any reporter on Team Kobe. Now retired, he understands the sensitive egos of professional athletes, but that won’t prevent him from lobbing grenades from his analyst chair on TNT’s Inside the NBA. “I’m G-14 classiﬁed to say anything about anybody because I’ve done it all,” he says minutes after stepping off the set. “It’s only hating if you haven’t done it, and I’ve done it many times.”
Shaq did it all during his 19-year career: 1992–93 NBA Rookie of the Year; 15-time All-Star; three-time All-Star MVP; 14 All-NBA selections; two scoring titles; at press time, ﬁfth all-time in points scored; four NBA championships; three Finals MVPs; and one regular season MVP (the singularity of which really pisses him off). He also acted with Academy Award nominees, rapped with Biggie and chased bad guys as a reserve ofﬁcer on the Miami Beach Police Department.
He retreats to a green room in TNT’s Atlanta studios to reminisce about all those moments. O’Neal wears a white shirt, periwinkle tie, dark suit pants and a matching vest. His head is shaved clean. He rocks a bushy neck beard. Needless to say, he is enormous—7’1”, 300-plus pounds. And when he’s ready to chat, he snatches the digital recorder with his massive hand and holds it close to his mouth. “I have a low voice,” he says.
VIBE: Evaluate your performance so far in the new gig.