A documentary based on basketball legend Shaquille O’Neal named ‘SHAQ’ and directed by Robert Alexander premiers on November 23, 2022, on HBO Max. Just before the documentary’s release, his cast-mates imitated Shaq by making a parody trailer of the documentary.

Who is Shaquille O’Neal?

Shaquille O’Neal, popularly known as Shaq, is an American former basketball professional who is considered one of the greatest basketball players of all time. He was born on March 6, 1972, Newark, New Jersey, USA to Joe Toney and Lucille O’Neal. Joe Toney was arrested for drug possession when O’Neal was a child.

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Toney relinquished his parental rights of O’Neal to Lucille and her second husband Phillip Arthur Harrison. O’Neal was outspoken about his disappointment about his father in the song, “Biological Didn’t Bother”. After high school, O’Neal studied at the Louisiana State University (LSU). However, he left university for a professional career in the NBA and later completed his Bachelor of Arts in 2000 from LSU.

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He started his professional basketball career with Orlando Magic in 1992. For his creditable performances in the season, he was named the NBA Rookie of the Year in 1993. His national career began in 1994 when he represented the US in the FIBA World Cup. He was part of the US national team that won the gold medal in the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.

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In 1996 he joined the Los Angeles Lakers and gradually developed a terrific tandem with rising star, the late Kobe Bryant which made the Lakers very fearsome. Under Phil Jackson’s leadership, the Lakers won hat trick NBA titles from 2000-2002. The Lakers’ dominance was best captured by O’Neal when he said, “There is only one way to beat us. It starts with C and ends with T”. He was referring to the word CHEAT.

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In 2004 O’Neal left the Lakers and joined the Miami Heat. In the 2005-06 season, he had an injury which put him off for 18 games. However, he was back and strategic planning by new head coach Pat Riley ensured that O’Neal played sparingly. After a creditable performance by O’Neal, Antonie Walker and Jason Williams, the Heat beat favourites Dallas Mavericks to win their first NBA title, making it O’Neal’s fourth.

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However, O’Neal’s career saw a decline after 2007 and he eventually left the Heats in 2008. The next three years saw O’Neal’s performances decline progressively and also saw him change three teams namely Phoenix Sun (2008-09), Cleaveland Cavaliers (2009-10), Boston Celtics (2010-11) before retiring in 2011.

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O’Neal is also a rapper, a career he began in 1993. His debut was through Shaq Diesel. He featured alongside Michael Jackson in “2 Bad”. He has also dabbled with acting, appearing in films Blue Chips and Kazaam and has been a television regular, featuring in the documentary film Apple Pie along with his mother on ESPN. He also hosted the show Upload with Shaquille O’Neal in 2013.

He married Shaunie Nelson in 2002 and the couple have 4 children