In an event geared toward the Lakers’ success past, the present storylines and off-beat questions, the primary guest on the 12th annual Lakers All-Access event seemed the most appropriate.
Former Lakers center Shaquille O’Neal walked into Staples Center on Monday evening and provided something he had done for his eight-years with the Lakers (1996-2004) where he won three of his four NBA championships. He told entertaining stories. He answered questions honestly. He left everyone laughing.
Below is the rundown:
O’Neal: “I got the call from the lovely Jeanie Buss about the event. So of course I would show. The Buss family has done a lot for me and we’ve had a great times together. We had a million great times and probably one bad time. The million great times are the times we always remember and the times that count.”
Time Warner Cable Access SportsNet’s Bill MacDonald: “What do you think of Roy Hibbert? He talked earlier about going up against you.”
O’Neal: “I like Roy. This year is a different role. This year is the Kobe [Bryant] tribute year and everything. It’s really focused and based on Kobe. Next year when the Lakers start rebuilding, Roy is part of the future. What he did in the Eastern Conference Finals against Indiana he was on his way, he didn’t have the opportunity to do that this year. But he still has it in him.”
Macdonald: “Did you own him?”
O’Neal: “Of course. BBQ chicken. Elbows to the face.”
Macdonald: “Because it’s in the news, how many of you heard what Shaq did the past couple of days. Can you describe what happened better than I can succinctly what happened with the police down in Gainesville, Florida with pickup basketball.
O’Neal: “I’m an undercover detective so you just blew my cover [laughs]. As soon as I was out of work, the chief called me in and said ‘I want you in this video.’ The video was awesome and I liked the way they handled the kids. I’d rather have kids rowdy playing sports where we can see them rather than them doing anything [else]. At the end, the officers said ‘Will you guys be out here tomorrow?’ The kids said ‘Yes.’ [The officer] said he needs backup. So he asked, ‘I need you to drive down to Gainesville and play with the kids.’ I just wanted to go and have fun with the kids and tell the officer he did a great job.”
Macdonald: “You guys have to see the video. It’s awesome and a great way to handle the situation. Speaking of videos, did any of you see Scary Movie 4? It’s one of your better movies.”
O’Neal: “Thank you. I’ve come a long way since Kazaam.”
Macdonald: “Were you ever little. What was little Shaq like?”
O’Neal: “I don’t really remember being little. I remember starting playing basketball at 10. Of course I was bigger than everybody. I can remember one parent on the opposing team saying, ‘There’s no way that kid is 10!’ If this kid is 10, he’s going to be the best big man in basketball. I was blocking shots and grabbing rebounds. I don’t ever remember being little.”
Macdonald: “I know LSU meant a lot to you in Dale Brown.”
O’Neal: “Yes they paid me very well (draws laughter). Statute of limitations is up. I can talk about it. They paid me very well. That’s right baby LSU.”
Macdonald: “Now you’re coming to LA. Was it everything you expected or was it more?”
O’Neal: “It was actually more. When I was in Orlando, if I was going to be in Orlando forever, we were in the Olympics in Atlanta. I saw Jerry West and he was like, I’d love to have you come play for the Lakers. I said, ‘Okay.’ At first offer, he offered me a few million. Then he offered me the big one and I couldn’t say no to that. Then he did something very interesting the first day I got here. The first day I got here, he walked me to the middle of the Forum and he told me to look up. He said, you could be next to those guys one day or you could be a bust. You have to decide. He put a lot of pressure on me. I knew I had big shoes to fill after the great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Wilt Chamberlain. I just wanted to make a name for myself and do it my way. I’m glad I had help from the great Kobe Bryant to help me win all those years.”
Macdonald: “I’m sure you’ve been asked a zillion times and even someone in the audience wrote down the question, ‘Did it play out just the way you wanted it to or would you do things a little bit differently?'”
O”Neal: “Well I didn’t really want to get traded. You have to understand it’s a business thing. But the good thing about the Buss family is they called me and told me they wanted to do things different. I said that I understood. Of course I was doing the marketing thing and playing it up. But there was never hard feelings. We always stayed in close communications.
But the way Kobe and I handled the situation, I’d probably do it the exact same way. People always ask me all the time, ‘Don’t you wish me and Kobe worked it out better?’ I asked them, ‘Well three out of four is not working out?’ That’s pretty good to me. We just had to find certain ways to push each other. It worked.”
Macdonald: “Who were your favorite cohorts or guys to be with during some of those Lakers years?”
O’Neal: “What the hell does cohort mean, smart guy?” (laughs). B Shaw. A lot of guys. We had fun. I wanted to have fun, but still come out and take care of business. I kind of miss this building. This building was awesome.”
Macdonald: “Best team that you played on those Lakers teams out of the three? Or don’t you like to compare and contrast?”
O’Neal: “I do. I’d go with the 15-1 team [that won the 2001 NBA Finals against the Philadelphia 76ers, 4-1]. We should’ve gone 16-0.”
Macdonald: “Does that still stick with you?”
O’Neal: “Kind of because I wanted to kill [Dikembe] Mutombo. African BBQ chicken, not a lot of meat on that chicken.
Macdonald: “What’s the best individual performance as a Laker?”
O’Neal: “The birthday game was a special game [scored a career-high 61 points on March 6, 2000 against the Clippers]. A lot of people don’t know that game was that Kareem was on the bench. When I was coming down, he would look at me. I’m putting in my head, Kareem is not respecting me. I have to turn it up a whole other notch.”
Macdonald: “Did you talk to him?”
O’Neal: “No, never talked to him. But it was a good game, a birthday game and guys were there for me. I was tired the next day. It was an awesome game.”
Macdonald: “How did you deal with getting beat up so much every single game on every single pain?”
O’Neal: “I tried to deliver the pain first. I tried to deliver it first. Being a former football, player, I’m used to it. Football was my first love. When you expect it, you know how to prepare for it. It never really bothered me.”
Macdonald: “You’re obviously, without question, one of the biggest big men ever to play the game. But is the true center dead? When you watch it on TNT all the time and you guys discuss, what about the game and that position?”
O’Neal: “Yeah. I think I killed them off. The game is just different now. You have a lot of guys picking and popping and shooting jumpers. Nearly 20 years ago, you never had Dirk [Nowitzki] shooting 3-pointers. He would be in the post. But he’s stepping up and shooting 3’s. The center position is dead.”
Macdonald: “I know a lot of you guys watch the NBA on TNT with this guy [points to Shaq]. It’s one of the great shows on television. What about the phenomena the show you’re on. Ernie [Johnson] is the best host ever. He is so perfect. You have Chuck [Charles Barkley] and Kenny [Smith] and sometimes you bring in others. How much fun do you have working on that?”
O’Neal: “It’s awesome. We kind of came to the realization if we’re going to keep you up at 1 or 2 o’clock, we may as well entertain you. They urge us to be silly and fun. When I first came on, I tried to come in and be professional like you. I actually got reprimanded for trying to be professional. We didn’t bring you for that. Okay, I’ll take care of that. They urge us to be silly.”
Macdonald: “Tell us about behind the scenes. Ernie is really the only guy that knows what’s going on.”
O’Neal: “Yeah, the game starts at 8. We’ll come in around 7:30 and dress and start talking. Easy homework.”
Macdonald: “What’s Chuck like?”
O’Neal: Fat as hell (laughter). I’ve seen him with his shirt off before. I was like, ‘Man you got some nice boobies.’ He’s actually good. We go at it a lot. We’re actually really good friends. A lot of people don’t know that his mom and my mom were best friends. His mom recently passed away. So it’s a respect thing there. Of course he’s a Hall of Fame player. We just go at it.”
Macdonald: “How about Kenny?”
O’Neal: “Kenny’s a nerd. Kenny’s one of those guys that tries to use big words and you don’t know what the hell they mean. He’s all right.”
Macdonald: “And then Ernie?”
O’Neal: “Ernie’s sort of like you. He’s a smart guy. Good looking. It’s a fun show. I was actually caught by surprise. The first three months, I won’t use the word ‘depression.’ But when you do something for the same for 20 years and it all stops, I would wake up and do something I’d never did before. I’d go outside and get the paper. I’d look at the birds. I’d go to the store. It was killing me I didn’t have anything to do. Once I got that call, it was a relief. I left early. I had a two-year deal in Boston and then I tore my Achilles. When I was at home by myself, I was awful.”
How did you get it?
O’Neal: “TNT called me. ESPN called me. But it took them three months. I sat for three months and did nothing. It was bad.”
Macdonald: “Can you believe ‘Shaqtin a Fool’ has taken off like it has?”
O’Neal: “TNT opens up a lot of ideas. I wanted to replace the word, ‘Bloopers.’ That sounded old. I wanted to give them something new. It’s fun.”
Macdonald: “Let’s talk about some basketball. Lakers 2015-16 season. Go ahead, uncensored or censored, filtered or unfiltered, what about this team this year?”
[One fan yells out: “Go Ham!”]
O’Neal: “I’m not used to the ebonics. ‘Go Ham?’ I don’t like ham. I like turkey on my sandwich [laughter]. Why are we talking about food? It’s a special year. Nobody, including myself, ever thought we’d be sitting here and watching Kobe Bryant’s last year. Even last year, it looked like he had two or three years left in him. When he made his [retirement] announcement, I was shocked. This year is pretty much dedicated to him. It’s a young team.
The problem with living in this city is you guys are spoiled. You guys are used to Magic [Johnson]. Then after Magic, Kobe and myself. Then I leave and Kobe takes over. You guys are used to winning all the time. When you’re not winning, everybody gets a little antsy. But it’s definitely going to take time. You probably have to discount this year.
This year is the farewell version. ‘Kobe, we love you and miss you.’ Then next year, you’ll start to see what we got.” But my favorite Lakers player right now is D’Angelo Russell. He’s a big guy who demands. I don’t mean D’Angelo. I mean Julius Randle. [laughter]
Macdonald: “Sorry D’Angelo”
O’Neal: “I’m getting old. I have Shaqheimers [laughs]. Julius Randle, big guy who can dribble and bangs. D’angelo Russell is a good guy too. He’s still young. Sorry about that D’Angelo.”
Macdonald: “Who’s better, Spurs or Golden State?”
O’Neal: “Golden State is shooting the ball unbelievably. I’m just wondering if they can continue to shoot like that during the regular season and the postseason. Stephen Curry is pulling shots out of his rear end. He hit two half court shots. I don’t think I ever hit one half court shot. He hit two in the same game. The Spurs are probably the only team that could possibly beat them.”
Macdonald: “Who’s your favorite player to watch other than D’Angelo Russell.”
O’Neal: “You want me to be honest?”
Macdonald: “I want you to be honest.”
O’Neal: “I watch Maury Povich. I’m serious. I’m not watching unless I’m going to work or doing a segment. I’m not even watching. I’m watching Maury Povich. ‘You are not the father!’ I’m serious. Maury Povich and First 48. That’s what I watch. I started watching ‘Making a Murderer.’ I started watching that. Then after that, I’m going to start watching Narcos. I’m a fan, but not really.”
Macdonald: “How’s the family? How’s your son? He’s a pretty good basketball player, right?
O’Neal: “He’s pretty good. He plays pretty well. He’s a sophomore [in high school]. That’s kind of surprising. I want to bring him along slowly. But the AAU thing isn’t going right. He’s 15. He’s 6’11. I asked him where he wanted to go to school and he didn’t give me the right answer is.”
Macdonald: “Which is….?”
O’Neal: “LSU. I already told him that, 2016, you can probably get a house you can probably get two cars. I’ll set it up for you. I know some people down there. Just playing. These are just jokes!”
Macdonald: “What kind of dad are you?”
O’Neal: “I’m a one minute manager dad. If I got to get upset at him, I take a minute. Then it’s back to being cool. I let his mother do all the yelling and screaming. But if I have to get upset, I’ll take a minute. A couple weeks ago, he got a C on his report.
I asked, ‘What are you doing?’ He told me he couldn’t find the information. I went crazy. I said, ‘Let me tell you something. When I was your age, I had to go next door to the neighbor’s house to borrow an Encyclopedia. I don’t want to hear that you can’t find the information. You got Google. If I grew up in this era, I’d be the best Shaqtorian. I said I don’t want to hear that.’ That’s the only time I got mad at him.
Macdonald: “Everyone knows Shaquille is a renaissance man. What happened to the movie career?”
O’Neal: “I get calls. But I have scheduling conflicts. The last three movies I did were Adam Sandler movies. I was playing and I always ask him, ‘Let me get a movie and he’d say, ‘Not until you win a championship.’ So I called him up and said, ‘You know that I got you three championships. So you owe me three movies.'”
Macdonald: “If there is an actress out there, who would you like to play opposite?”
O’Neal: “I don’t want to play an actress. That’s DeAndre Jordan’s job. You see that commercial with DeAndre Jordan? I don’t do that. He had some nice boobies in that commercial. DeAndre, you look pretty good.”
Macdonald: “Another one of the audience questions was when are you going to drop another rap album?”
O’Neal: “1990-never. I’m 45 years old. I don’t think anybody wants to see a 45 year old rapper.”
*A fan says something to O’Neal
O’Neal to fan: “Is that your husband? I was going to say, ‘Once you go Shaq, you never go back.’ I’m just playing. I don’t want any problems outside. [Reads mock headline] ‘Shaq was stabbed in the back today by a fan.’ Just playing. Just want to make you laugh.”
Macdonald: “You’re pretty active on social media. How often do you post?”
O’Neal: “About twice a week. The thing with me is I want to make people laugh and let you know what product I’m involved with.”
Macdonald: “Out of all the products you pitch, which ones do you actually use?”
O’Neal: “I use Icy Hot. All black people use lotion. Of course I use lotion.”
Macdonald: “What is next on the agenda to conquer for Shaquille O’Neal?”
O’Neal: “I think I want to go to law school. I got my doctorate a couple of years ago. I’m thinking about going to law school. I want to own a law firm. But I don’t want to be a lawyer. But you have to be a lawyer to own a law firm. I have four or five lawyer friends that are dysfunctional in Orlando.
I know if I can bring them together, we can bring the whole law firm. That’s my next challenge. It’ll take me five years. Then I’ll be 50. I’ll be an old time. I’ll get you half off that Viagra for you. Viagra, I got it.”
Macdonald: “The last thing about this organization with, Jeanie, the team, that banner, what does it mean?”
O’Neal: “I love Jeanie. I love this organization. I love this city. I love this building. We had some great times here. I wish it could’ve played out where I played out here forever. But business is business. The thing about the Buss family is the day I got traded, I got a call from Jeanie and Dr. Jerry Buss.”