Hear the name “Shaquille O’Neal,” and you know he’s a basketball legend with a big presence. Because he’s an NBA icon, it’s easy to assume that he faced his toughest opponents on the court. But O’Neal’s biggest opponent has nothing to do with basketball. actually one on the court, and the reason has everything to do with the type of person he is.
Shaquille O’Neal, NBA legend
Shaq’s career started in 1992 when the Orlando Magic drafted him with the first overall pick. During his third season, he won the Rookie of the Year award and helped take the Magic to the NBA finals. After losing to the Rockets, O’Neal only played one more season with the Magic before heading to Los Angeles Lakers.
The then-23-year-old found an even better groove in LA, teaming up with Kobe Bryant to lead the team to three straight championships from 2000-02. O’Neal stayed for two more seasons with the Lakers before heading to the Heat. Here, O’Neal help lead his team to Miami’s first championship in 2006.
Shaq played for three other teams before retiring in 2011. During his career, he won All-Star titles, championships, and MVP titles. O’Neal entered the NBA Hall of Fame in 2016. He certainly deserved it.
Shaq’s biggest opponents on the court
Over his 19-year career, O’Neal faced many big-name players on the court. Some were harder than others, and in an interview with Sports Illustrated, he called out his biggest opponents. Unsurprisingly, three out of four were other Hall of Famers.
While he could easily defeat most, Hakeem Olajuwon, Patrick Ewing, and David Robinson gave him a run for his money. The other was a bit of a surprise: Rik Smits, former Indiana Pacers center. O’Neal says the way he eventually beat them was his advantage of being younger.
But Shaq never said a bad word about any of the guys, complimenting them and saying they were more friends than enemies.
Shaq’s career post-basketball
While he was an NBA player, Shaq once blew through his money, like many players tend to do. He began to get smart, investing money in things he believes in, is passionate about, or thinks can help people. O’Neal even said this is the key to making money and that he learned this tip from Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon.
Reportedly, Shaq invests 75% of his income and has a stake in companies like Google and Apple. He owns franchises with Auntie Anne’s, Krispy Kreme, and other restaurants, as well as gyms, car washes, and other businesses.
O’Neal does more than invest his money, though; he also dabbles in design, children’s books, commercials, DJing, and sports analyst gigs. You would know his name even if you didn’t watch him play because he stays relevant, which helps his career endeavors post-basketball.
Shaq’s newest opponent
In June 2019, Shaq found a new investment. He became part of the Papa John’s board of directors and invested in nine Atlanta locations. This was big news because a year earlier, Papa John’s founder John Schnatter resigned as chairman for using a racial slur on a conference call.
Making Shaq the face of the brand certainly made a statement. Still, Schnatter didn’t stop making headlines with controversial remarks about the company he founded. In October 2019, he told a FOX news outlet that no one on the board knew anything about pizza and the franchises were hurting because of it.
In November 2019, Schnatter claimed the new management had changed his original recipe. The former CEO still holds the most individual shares in the company, but this didn’t stop Shaq from getting annoyed.
O’Neal has denied that the recipe changed and thinks Schnatter needs to keep his mouth shut. He made it clear that Schnatter does not faze him and that he is on a mission to make the brand No. 1. He’s doing well, considering the international stock has risen around 50% since Schnatter left.
While Schattner doesn’t necessarily have anything bad to say about Shaq specifically, he’s filed a lawsuit against an advertising firm. This company was blamed for leaking the video of the conference call that led to Schattner leaving the company.
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