When Shaquille O’Neal retired from the NBA in the spring of 2011, he had everything a basketball player could have imagined — and remember, this came before he started doing insurance commercials for The General.
O’Neal won four championships, earned All-Star honors 15 times, and earned nearly $300 million across a long and successful career. Yet when he’s long gone, the basketball legend doesn’t want you to only focus on what’s on his Basketball-Reference page.
Shaquille O’Neal doesn’t want to be remembered for his wealth or stats
The top pick in the 1992 NBA Draft, O’Neal more than lived up to expectations over the next two decades. His on-court success and charming personality made him a hit with fans and a perennial All-NBA center.
Generations of basketball fans will, understandably, remember him for those moments. There’ll be another generation who, while they may not have been old enough to see his glory days alongside Kobe Bryant on the Los Angeles Lakers, will always treasure his commentary on TNT’s Inside the NBA.
In a March 2021 interview with ThoughtEconomics, O’Neal made it clear he doesn’t want people to know him for the bullet points on a resume.
“I want people to say ‘Shaquille O’Neal was a nice guy.’ … Forget how much money I made, forget how many championships I won, or what type of businessman I am. I just want people to say I was a nice guy.”
We have reason to believe that people will continue saying O’Neal is among the greatest basketball players ever and did a great job selling low-rate car insurance. With that said, we like O’Neal’s thinking here.
O’Neal has wisely invested his $300 million in earnings
When O’Neal made those comments, he understandably referenced his career earnings — Basketball-Reference valued that total at over $292 million — and his five championships.
You may have also noticed O’Neal brought up his reputation as a businessman. Over the years, he’s made significant investments in Lyft, Ring (a home security system company), and Vitaminwater.
In 2013, O’Neal bought a minority stake — reports valued it at anywhere between 2 and 4% — in the Sacramento Kings. His championship pedigree didn’t help the Kings, a team that still hasn’t made the NBA Playoffs since 2006.
According to the Sacramento Business Journal, he agreed to sell his stake in August 2021 because he is now involved in WynnBet, a mobile sports betting app. Although the NBA has embraced legalized sports gambling, league governors are prohibited from having connections to businesses related to gambling.
More professional athletes are following in O’Neal’s ownership footsteps
O’Neal was far from the first professional athlete, retired or active, to have an ownership stake in a North American sports franchise. By the current looks of things, that’s a trend that isn’t going away anytime soon.
Milwaukee Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo recently purchased a minority stake in the Milwaukee Brewers. LeBron James became a part-owner of the Boston Red Sox earlier this year. In 2011, James expanded his horizons overseas and purchased a share in Liverpool F.C
Dwayne Wade, O’Neal’s former teammate on the Miami Heat, purchased a stake in the Utah Jazz. Michael Jordan bought the then-Charlotte Bobcats in 2010, although they’re still yet to even win a playoff series with him in charge.
Elsewhere in sports, Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes has ownership stakes in both the Kansas City Royals and Sporting KC, a soccer team. Former New York Yankees star Alex Rodriguez is in a group that now owns the Minnesota Timberwolves. His former teammate, Derek Jeter, is the CEO and part-owner of the Miami Marlins.
All should hope they have more success as owners than O’Neal. In his eight seasons as a minority owner, O’Neal’s Kings never won more than 39 games in a season before he sold his stake, which means they’ll be NBA Finals champions next year. We know how this works.