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V Exclusive! Shaquille O’Neal Addresses His Legacy, Pat Riley, Rapping and a Certain Two-Guard (PG.2)

It seemed like the Magic considered drafting Chris Webber after your rookie year. Why did you prefer Penny Hardaway?
Me and C-Webb may have worked, but he needed the ball and I damn sure needed the ball. I wasn’t ready to share with another big guy. My thing was, if I’m going to get blamed for everything, then I’m really the general manager. Seriously. I called upstairs and said, “Listen, I know you’re thinking of taking C-Webb, but you have to see this Penny guy.” And it worked for a couple of years, until egos got involved.

Bonus! Quote Monster: “If I played now, I’d be averaging 45 and 19. People always try to compare Dwight Howard to me. There is no comparison.?” –Shaq
You talked in your book about how that caused you to leave Orlando. But why Los Angeles? Was it because of the team or the entertainment industry?
I went to L.A. for Jerry West and, of course, the opportunities—I was doing music, movies, producing movies. Best decision I made in my life. What was your motivation for doing movies and rapping: money, fame or simply a creative outlet? It was a young, medium-level juvenile delinquent ful?lling his dreams. I really never wanted to do an album—”Man, I’m not that good”—but Jive gave me $5 million. I couldn’t turn that down. First movie I got was Blue Chips—$3 million. Kazaam—$6 million. I’m never turning that stuff down. Ever. When I went into the studio with my favorite rappers, I got their respect. That was enough for me.

Did you write your own rhymes?

I do. I’m just stuck in a place where I can’t say what I really want to say because I am a role model. I don’t claim to be the best rapper, but I’m the best basketball rapper. Guarantee that.

Better than Metta World Peace?
Oh, way better. I’m killing Artest.

Were the movies and music ever a distraction?
They thought it was, but, no. It was just taking advantage of opportunities, meeting people and having a good time. People that don’t understand basketball were saying, “You need to work out.” But you can’t maximize your potential after the third hour of workout. Studies show that you can’t do that. After three hours, if you’re still working out, you’re doing yourself a disservice. I worked my ass off to get to where I’m at. But after that, Shaq is gonna go home and take a nap. When I wake up, it’s going to be 5 o’clock, and then that’s opportunity time.

I think Game 7 of the 2000 Western Conference Finals against Portland was the de?ning moment of your career. What was going through your mind, down 15 in the fourth quarter?
The doubts are creeping up in my mind because that was my best year—I won the MVP. And I would have made history and been the ?rst unanimous MVP ever, but some dickhead from Atlanta voted for Iverson and fucked up history. He did. But the Portland game, if the general panics then the troops will panic. Phil was like, “I’ll see you next summer.” That’s all he said. We were like, “No, we’re not going out like this.” Steve Smith was out there celebrating way too early. But you’re right: That game could have broke me if we didn’t win.

Some sportswriters think you underachieved because you only won one MVP.
Steve Nash is my boy, but I don’t see how the fuck he got it twice. I was taught never to complain because you can’t beat the system. People know who the real dominant guy was. But Steve Nash, I don’t want to say it
Check Back Tomorrow For Part 2 Of The Full Interview

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