Shaquille O’Neal talks to the NYT about LeBron’s Decision, and where he’ll be taking his talents once he retires:
Are you concerned about the declining fortunes of Cleveland now that you and LeBron James have left?
We would have liked to have given them a better ending.
Have you spoken to LeBron since he signed with the Miami Heat?
Did you watch along with the rest of the world when he monopolized ESPN for a night to announce where he was going?
No, I didn’t. One, I was with the kids, and two, I didn’t know it was going to be on TV.
I didn’t watch it, either.
That’s because you’re mature and you’re my age and we have a different mind-set.
Age has given O’Neal perspective.
Do you find it difficult to be an aging athlete?
A little bit. We live in an impatient world. Everybody is always looking for the next big Kobe, the next big LeBron, the next big Twitter.
And did you know that besides Twittering, hosting TV shows, raising his kids, visiting his dad, and hooping it up, Shaq is writing his dissertation?
Do you think you’ll ever be a sports announcer, like Charles Barkley?
Hopefully not. When I’m done playing basketball, I want do something bigger. I’m working on my doctorate right now at Barry University in Florida.
What are you writing your dissertation on?
My topic will be “How Leaders Utilize Humor or Aggression in Leadership Styles.”
You’ve been called the Big Aristotle, among other nicknames.
I’m done with the nicknames. Actually, when I obtain my doctorate, I will not allow people to call me Shaq anymore, either.
What will they call you?
It might seem like I’m making fun of Shaq, but I’m really not. (I do think he’s funny.) I like and respect him a lot, all the more so for pursuing whatever he’s been interested in.
In my Kottke post this week on how athletes are different from you or me, I included a quote by Bill Simmons about how Michael Jordan really bordered on sociopathic behavior during the years he contended for a championship. I didn’t mention that the quote is actually from Simmons’s section on Shaquille O’Neal.
Simmons’s point was that Shaq never became quite as great as Jordan, despite having comparable talent, in part because he was a more-well-rounded person; his drive to succeed wasn’t so singularly focused on beating people on the court, except really during his four championship seasons.
This is also one reason Barkley, who was friends with Jordan and battled with him and probably came closest to beating him during his championship years (’93, with the Suns), could never quite get there, and got bogged down with controversies and politics during his career — and yet he’s a better announcer than Jordan ever could be. Definitely a better interview. Probably a better friend. He always had other things on his mind.