Who Is Shaquille O'Neal?
Shaquille O'Neal is one of the most dominant players in NBA history, helping his teams to win NBA Championships and Olympic gold. Following his 2011 retirement, O'Neal became an NBA analyst, working alongside the likes of Charles Barkley and Ernie Johnson.
Shaquille Rashaun O'Neal was born on March 6, 1972, in Newark, New Jersey. After graduating from Cole High School in San Antonio, Texas, he enrolled at Louisiana State University, and would go on to become one of the most dominant players in the NBA.
During his years at Louisiana State, O'Neal was named College Player of the Year (1991) and twice named a unanimous first team All-American (1991, 1992). He dropped out of college in 1992, after his junior year, to pursue a career in the NBA.
Professional Basketball and Stats
In his rookie season with the Orlando Magic, O'Neal, also known as "Shaq," finished in the Top 10 in scoring, rebounding, blocks and shooting percentage. A notoriously bad free-throw shooter, O'Neal focused on trying to get more of his points on the power slam, and hearty NBA centers quickly learned to try to foul O'Neal rather than give him an easy shot. O'Neal became the first player in NBA history to be named Player of the Week in his first week in the league.
In 1996, O'Neal signed the biggest contract in NBA history, seven years for $120 million with the Los Angeles Lakers. That same year, he helped the United States' Dream Team win gold at the Olympic Games in Atlanta, Georgia.
By the end of the decade, O'Neal was a three-time member of the All-NBA Third Team (1994, 1996 and 1997) and a two-time member of the All-NBA Second Team (1995 and 1999), and had earned a place on the All-NBA First Team (1998). (After debuting with the league's First Team in '98, he would be selected to the First Team seven more times — every year from 2000 to 2006.) In 2000, O'Neal was named the NBA's Most Valuable Player.
O'Neal to a three year, $88.5 million contract extension and the larger-than-life center helped deliver three consecutive world championships to the team (2000, 2001 and 2002). In 2004, however, following growing dismay with team management and friction with teammate Kobe Bryant, O'Neal was traded to the Miami Heat.
During the 2004-05 season, O'Neal averaged a double-double (22.9 points per game and 10.4 rebounds), and in 2006, he helped the Heat capture the NBA championship — the fourth championship win of his career. O'Neal also led the league in field goal percentage in both 2005 and 2006, and during the 2006-07 season, he reached a career milestone: scoring his 25,000th point.
Following the 2007-08 season — his fourth season with the Heat — O'Neal was traded to the Phoenix Suns. He would only play for one season with the Suns, but that didn't stop him from earning acclaim: Highlights from 2008-09 include leading the league with a .609 FG percentage, and being named the NBA All-Star Game's co-MVP in 2009.
O'Neal then traveled to the Midwest, joining the Cleveland Cavaliers via a trade deal that cost the team $500,000 and two players. His 2009-10 highlights include helping the Cavs earn the No. 1 seed in the playoffs, where he averaged 11.5 PPG, and establishing a season average of 12 points and 6.7 rebounds per game.
After only one season with the Cavs, O'Neal became a free agent and, in August 2010, signed with the Boston Celtics. Unfortunately, an achilles injury proved to be an incredible detriment to the player and team in 2010-11: In addition to missing 27 season games, O'Neal sat out the first round of 2011 playoffs and played just two games of the second round.
On June 1, 2011, O'Neal announced his plans to retire from the NBA on his Twitter page, stating: "We did it. Nineteen years, baby. I want to thank you very much. That's why I'm telling you first. I'm about to retire. Love you. Talk to you soon." One of the greatest players in NBA history, O'Neal was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2016.NBA AnalystAfter officially retiring in 2011, O'Neal became an NBA analyst for TNT's Inside the NBA. Working alongside former NBA greats Charles Barkley and Kenny Smith, as well as veteran sportscaster Ernie Johnson, O'Neal became known for hosting his blooper-filled "Shaqtin' a Fool" segment. He renewed his contract with the show in 2015.
Even while establishing himself as an NBA All-Star, O'Neal was busy with a budding side career as a rapper. In 1993, he appeared on the Fu-Schnickens' Top 40 single What's Up Doc?, a track that appeared on his solo debut, Shaq Diesel. With help from artists like Def Jef, the album achieved platinum status.
Thanks to a slew of guest-stars, Shaq-Fu Da Return, released in 1994, established O'Neal as a gold-certified rap artist. His third album, 1996's You Can't Stop the Reign, was released under his own imprint, TWIsM (The World Is Mine) Records. Respect was released in 1998, while a fifth album, Presents His Superfriends, was intended for a 2001 release, before being scrapped.
O'Neal has also appeared in several films, including Blue Chips with Nick Nolte, and starred in vehicles such as Kazaam! and Steel, for which he also recorded the soundtrack albums. In recent years, he has worked a variety of film and television projects, ranging from a guest spot on the gritty police drama Southland in 2013 to starring in his sitcom pilot in 2015. In 2018 he starred alongside Kyrie Irving, Tiffany Haddish and a slew of former NBA players in the sports comedy Uncle Drew.
Ownership, Esports and Restaurants
With an eye on expanding his business footprint, O'Neal acquired a Master of Business Administration degree from Barry University in Florida in 2005 and later returned to the university to earn a doctorate degree in education in 2012.
The basketball great became a minority owner of the NBA's Sacramento Kings in 2013 and later was named general manager of the Kings' esports team. In 2016, he invested in the NRG Esports organization. O'Neal is also prominently involved in the restaurant industry, having purchased a Krispy Kreme in Atlanta and opened his own Southern cuisine restaurant, Shaquille's, in Los Angeles. In 2019, he joined Papa John's board of directors and became a brand ambassador.
O'Neal has also made headlines for his forays into law enforcement. He was designated as an honorary U.S. Deputy Marshal in 2005, and in 2016, he was sworn in as a sheriff’s deputy in Clayton County, Georgia. In 2019, O'Neal became an auxiliary deputy for the Broward County Sheriff’s Office in Florida.
O'Neal has four children with ex-wife Shaunie Nelson, as well as another daughter by an ex-girlfriend.
O'Neal stands at 7 feet, 1 inch tall. His shoe size is 22.
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