In his first year as a talking head, Shaquille O’Neal has struggled to translate his outsized personality onto the television screen. What the retired big man hasn’t had any trouble with, however, is the ability to give amazing interviews.
Shaq spoke candidly with Vibe Magazine about a number of subjects, and here are some choice quotes about former teammate Steve Nash and the rivalry with the Sacramento Kings:
VIBE: Some sportswriters think you underachieved because you only won one MVP. Shaq: “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 because you might print it and it might cause problems. I don’t believe he beat me out twice.”
Was there genuine animosity between the Lakers and the 2002 Kings?
“It wasn’t, but I created it. I know how to get you to watch me. Okay, Sacramento is coming up and it’s already a big game, ‘Fuck them, the Sacramento Queens.’ And now everyone is talking about that. [...] The trash talk against Sacramento worked. Peja Stojakovic and Doug Christie missed open three’s down the stretch. “They were shook. Pressure busts pipes. Most of those guys were playing because of C-Webb’s balls. C-Webb had balls and White Chocolate [Jason Williams] had balls. [Writer’s Note: Williams was traded from Sacramento before the 2001–02 season, and didn’t play in that series.] Divac ain’t got no balls. Doug Christie damn sure ain’t got no balls. I would look at them during the national anthem. I could see in their eyes if they were scared. I would see Doug Christie looking and doing the thing [ﬂashing hand signals] to his wife. I would make eye contact with Divac, and he looked down. And I was like, ‘Okay, I got him.’ C-Webb would try to look hard, but it didn’t work because his other puppies didn’t play well.”
Shaquille O’Neal also criticizes his work on NBATV and TNT (giving himself only a C-minus), his relationship with Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers management, Pat Riley and his NBA legacy. It’s a very entertaining read.
Shaq should be allowed to swear on television. I’m convinced this would make him infinitely better as an analyst.