Monday 21 August 2017 / 03:55 PM

CBS LEGENDS: SHAQUILLE O’NEAL

Shaquille O’Neal, also known as ‘Shaq Diesel’ or other nicknames such as ‘The Big Galactus’ and ‘Wilt Chamberneezy’, is not only one of the modern greats of the NBA, he’s also an incredibly accomplished and overall really cool guy off the court.

He’s a great investor. He has a platinum album. He’s got an MBA. He’s a Freemason. He’s been in professional wrestling. He’s a minority owner of the Sacramento Kings. The list goes on to police officer and a slew of other interesting experiences. Shaq is 7’1, 325 pounds – and he’s still under scale in comparison to the ego and personality he conveys.

O’Neal’s seamless transition from the NBA into being a commentator and his anti-climactic retirement took something away from his playing legacy. Shaq was drafted in 1992 by the Orlando Magic and became one of the best centers in the NBA in a few short years. He helped Orlando get to the NBA Finals in 1995 against Hakeem Olajuwon and the Rockets.

Young Diesel had competed against one of the greatest Hall-of-Famers at the highest level, and he was only 23. He signed as a free agent to the Los Angeles Lakers and along with Kobe Bryant would win three consecutive championships from 2000-02. O’Neal was traded to Miami in 2004, and would help young D-Wade win a championship in 2006. After that, he bounced around Phoenix, Cleveland and would retire in Boston.

Let’s process that last bit for a minute.

In his NBA career, Shaq has played alongside greats such as Bryant, Wade, LeBron James, Penny Hardaway, Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, Gary Payton, Karl Malone, Steve Nash, and Grant Hill. He has played against Michael Jordan, Hakeem Olajuwon, Tim Duncan, and numerous other legends. He’s fought Charles Barkley on the court, and now sits next to him on Inside the NBA. His #34 jersey was retired by the Lakers in 2013, and the Miami Heat plan to retire his #32 jersey in 2016-2017.

The chink in his armor was his free-throwing ability, which Shaq says was completely a mental issue. As a guy who shot 80% free throws in practice, yet missed over 5,000 free throws in his career.

O’Neal’s drop-step-dunk combination was absolutely savage and posterized countless unfortunate souls. The athleticism and frame is enough to discourage anyone from jumping for a block. His power alone has broken backboards.

Shaq the Investor

Shaq’s dominance may have ended on the court, but it continued into the real world. Hegot his hands on Google IPO stock in 2004 at $85 a share, and now they’re worth over $800. He owns 17 Auntie Anne’s Pretzels franchises, 150 car washes, 155 Five Guys Burgers and Fries restaurants, 40 24 Hour Fitness gyms, and has a slew of shares in Vegas nightclubs, a movie theatre, an 866-foot tall residential complex in Miami, Muscle Milk, Vitamin Water, as well as a start-up out of San Francisco called Loyal3.

It’s amazing how the temptations of the NBA can either make or break it’s players after they retire, but Shaq is doing an amazing job.

Part of the Lakers’ showtime celebrity image was cemented by Shaq’s personality and athletic dominance. His basketballing greatness may have peaked, but Diesel has much more left in the tank.

The celebrity he carries has not died yet, and his take on life is admirable. O’Neal has said, “I’m Muslim, I’m Jewish, I’m Buddhist, I’m everybody ’cause I’m a people person.”

Although the big man once was one of the most terrifying people on the court, he did get punched in the face by a little kid on camera so his intimidation factor may have subsided with the end of his NBA career.

[YouTube – ac 2332]

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About the author

Alex Moskov

Alex has come on board with CBS as our basketball and gridiron expert, providing opinions and analysis from the bright lights of the NBA and NFL.

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