Ubiquitous NBA superstar O’Neal offers an entertaining, if undeniably self-serving chronicle of his unique career.
The self-styled “Big Aristotle” is unquestionably one of the most dominant players ever to grace the hardwood; he’s also one of the game’s biggest characters. With an assist from veteran basketball writer MacMullan (co-author with Larry Bird and Magic Johnson: When the Game Was Ours, 2010), O’Neal details an impoverished childhood lacking in material things but filled with strong influences, ranging from his grandmother to his stepfather, “Sarge,” a strict disciplinarian who helped curb the young O’Neal’s occasionally wayward tendencies. After a storied college career at LSU, O’Neal moved on to a dominant run in the NBA, from his early career in Orlando to his title-laden days as a Los Angeles Laker to his role as sidekick to young superstar Dwayne Wade in Miami. Despite his gregarious nature and an ever-adoring public (as evidenced by his inexplicable success as a rapper), acrimonious departures from NBA cities became something of a recurring theme throughout O’Neal’s career, circumstances he goes to great lengths to portray in a manner that casts him in the best possible light (PR-savvy veteran that he is, however, he places just enough blame on himself to bolster the veracity of his claims). Shameless self-promotion aside, the “Diesel” has a talent for entertaining, whether he’s suggesting that a jibe from President Obama ruined Celtics’ point guard Rajon Rondo’s jump shot or ruminating on the complicated nature of his relationship with Kobe Bryant. Question his free-throw shooting ability or willingness to absorb his share of responsibility when things go wrong, but it’s hard to question his charisma.
Symbolic of Shaq’s career: consistently captivating, but you can’t help but feel he left something on the table.