TNT Sees Big Things (Obviously) in Shaquille O’Neal’s Future
The man stands 7-foot-1 and 325 pounds, so there is no way that Turner Sports could have anything less than big plans for Shaquille O’Neal. The network has confirmed that the Hall of Fame basketball player will stick around as a basketball analyst alongside Charles Barkley and Kenny Smith. But Shaq will also be branching out.
Shaquille O’Neal had an impressive basketball career
Shaquille O’Neal succeeded in basketball and pretty much everything he’s tried since. Shaq was the AP Player of the Year in his second year at LSU and then a consensus All-American as a junior, after which the Orlando Magic made him the top pick of the 1992 NBA draft.
O’Neal averaged 23.4 points and 13.9 rebounds in that first season to dominate the Rookie of the Year balloting by a 96-2 margin over Alonzo Mourning, who also averaged a double-double. He left the Magic after four seasons to spends eight years playing for the Los Angeles Lakers. He won the first three of his four NBA championships alongside Kobe Bryant.
His final title came with the Miami Heat in 2006, and Shaq completed his career with stints in Phoenix, Cleveland, and Boston. O’Neal retired after 19 seasons in the league, having averaged 23.7 points and 10.7 rebounds throughout his career.
He led the NBA in scoring twice and shooting percentage 10 times, including eight times in a span of nine years.
Smart investments and a variety of business pursuits
Shaquille O’Neal’s career off the court has been equally impressive. The first of four rap music albums he recorded achieved platinum status, he appeared in several movies, and he’s starred in a pair of reality TV shows.
In the business world, O’Neal invested successfully in the stock market, started a mortgage company specializing in assisting homeowners facing foreclosure, and bought a minority stake in the Sacramento Kings in 2013. One of his investments in fast-food businesses led to O’Neal becoming the spokesman for the Papa John’s pizza chain.
And, of course, there’s his career as a basketball analyst. O’Neal signed on with TNT before the 2011-12 NBA season, joining Charles Barkley, Kenny Smith, and Ernie Johnson to provide news and commentary.
Shaquille O’Neal is staying with TNT and expanding his role
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Shaquille O’Neal has become a popular part of TNT’s coverage of the NBA, so it is only natural that Turner Sports would announce that the Hall of Fame player has signed a multi-year extension with the network.
The surprise in the announcement is that O’Neal is branching out beyond pro basketball analysis on TNT as the network takes advantage of his popularity with viewers. O’Neal’s new responsibilities will include an appearance in a series about the business of basketball for NBA TV and contributions to NBA.com.
Shaq already does basketball blooper highlights segments on Inside the NBA for TNT, but Turner will expand that to other platforms and sports. Given the volume of material available, especially once the country moves past the pandemic, that sounds like a weekly half-hour show in the making.
He will also join CNN’s live coverage of New Year’s Eve, presumably reviving his DJ Diesel persona, and take an as-yet-to-be-determined role with TNT’s All-Elite Wrestling franchise.
The best part for O’Neal, hard-working in his post-playing days despite accumulating a comfortable net worth, is that he adds executive producer status with Turner Sports’ Bleacher Report franchise. He also picks up a development deal with WarnerMedia, which gives him the ability to expand beyond sports projects.
All stats courtesy of Basketball Reference.