When I arrive at the handball courts adjacent the hardwood at world-famous Rucker Park to get my allotted interview time with Shaquille O’Neal, I have to wait. It’s a humid Monday in Harlem, and the emcee for the evening is just quickly confirming Shaq’s career accomplishments, so that he can properly intro The Big Aristotle a few minutes later to the hordes of assembled fans (the line for last Monday’s Rucker game was 100 deep outside waiting to get in, but playground basketball is dead, right ESPN?) who have gathered to get a glimpse of greatness.
“Fifteen-time NBA All-Star,” the host starts. Shaq nods. “Four-time NBA Champion, three-time Finals MVP, one-time NBA MVP, Olympic Gold Medalist, NBA Rookie of the Year…” It’s a hell of a résumé to hear rattled off all at once. Shaq Fu doesn’t even flinch.
These days, younger kids may be more familiar with Shaq as the goofy TNT studio analyst, but seeing him engulf a metal folding chair, his size-22 shoes making my feet look like an infant’s, it’s enough to bring the Diesel days flooding back to memory.
The sure-fire Hall of Famer, born in Brick City — Newark, New Jersey — was in town on behalf of Reebok along with rapper Cam’ron and Sixers big man Nerlens Noel, celebrating among other things the release of the Shaq Attaq IV. So we ran him through the ANTENNA Q+A, and he answered every question in true Shaq Daddy fashion. Scroll through the gallery above to read his responses!
All images via Reebok