Within 30 minutes of getting his first $1 million check from the NBA, Shaquille O’Neal squandered it. You read correctly. In under 30 minutes, Shaquille O’Neal spent a million dollars. Even so, he hadn’t yet participated in a game of professional basketball. Despite the fact that Shaq is a living basketball legend today, he was once a young, impetuous 21-year-old newly drafted NBA player straight out of LSU. He could have easily followed in the footsteps of numerous other bankrupt and indebted athletes who, after being bestowed with wealth and fame at a young age, blew their fortune rather than investing in it.
Luckily for Shaq, two things occurred after that: #1) Shaq’s banker called him up right away and yelled at him, telling him that if he didn’t get his life under control, he would wind up broke like so many other athletes. Shaq listened, #2.
Shaq didn’t arrive with any sense of entitlement, unlike many other young sportsmen who could have disregarded the banker’s counsel. He truly paid attention when advised to clean up his act, which makes him a unique breed of professional sports. In fact, even though Shaq left LSU early for the NBA, he eventually returned to college to complete his Bachelor’s degree. He subsequently obtained an MBA as well. Shaq most recently received his Ed.D. He is now Dr. Shaquille O’Neal, that’s true. Really nice, huh?
Shaquille Rashaun O’Neal was born March 6, 1972 in Newark, New Jersey, where he grew up with his mother Lucille O’Neal and stepfather Phillip Harrison. His family had moved to San Antonio, Texas, by the time our senior year of high school had passed. In his first two years as coach, he helped his high school team to a 68-1 record, and in his senior year, he helped the squad capture the state championship. He had 791 rebounds in 1989, which is still a state record.
Shaquille O’Neal is one of the biggest men to ever play in the NBA at 7’1″ and 325 pounds. His stature didn’t deter evaluators or clubs, and the Orlando Magic selected him first overall in the 1992 NBA Draft. Almost immediately (and for the duration of his 19-year NBA career), he rose to the top of the league as a center, personifying the big man in the middle. In 1992–1993 he was named Rookie of the Year, and in 1995 he led the Magic to the NBA Finals. Shaq joined the Los Angeles Lakers as a free agent in 1996 and helped the team win three NBA titles in a row in 2000, 2001, and 2002. In 2004, he was transferred to the Miami Heat, where he went on to win his fourth NBA title in 2006. He played for the Phoenix Suns, Cleveland Cavaliers, and Boston Celtics before retiring in 2011.
Throughout his illustrious 19-season professional basketball career, Shaq received numerous individual honors and trophies. The 1999-2000 MVP title, the aforementioned 1992-93 NBA Rookie of the Year award, 15 All-Star game selections, three All-Star Game MVP awards, three Finals MVP awards, 14 All-NBA team picks, and three NBA All-Defensive Team selections are among them. Only three players—including Shaq—have won the NBA MVP, MVP of the All-Star game, and MVP of the Finals in the same calendar year (2000).
Although he is one of the greatest basketball players of our time, Shaq made a promise to his mama when he left LSU early that he would return to school to complete his undergraduate degree. When he achieved that in 2000, O’Neal’s coach at the time, Phil Jackson of the Lakers, gave him permission to miss a home game in order to go to his graduation. At his graduation, he famously informed the audience, “Now I can go and get a real job.” O’Neal completed his online MBA at the University of Phoenix in 2005, and he had this to say about it:
“Just something to put on my résumé for when I return to my regular life. Someday I might have to put down a basketball and have a regular 9-to-5 like everybody else.”
As he neared the end of his playing career, Shaq began work on an Ed.D. at Barry University in Human Resource Development. His doctoral thesis topic was “The Duality of Humor and Aggression in Leadership Styles”. (Oh, how I wish I could read that.) After receiving his degree, Shaq changed his name to Dr. Shaq in 2012. He has stated that his next step will be law school.
Oh, and don’t forget about Shaq’s time working in law enforcement. Shaq went through the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Reserve Academy and became a reserve officer with the Los Angeles Port Police. O’Neal started undergoing training to become a reserve officer for Miami Beach after being traded to Miami. He receives a yearly compensation of $1 for his efforts.
O’Neal left the NBA in 2011 after 19 seasons. He was a 7′ 1″ 325-pound giant with feet so swift they belied his stature and incredibly explosive power, one of the most dominant big men in the history of the sport. Along with the distinctions and awards already mentioned, Shaq also amassed 28,596 points and $292 million in salary from six organizations.
Shaq has nonetheless demonstrated his intelligence and skill as a brand and portfolio manager, although without having received a college education. Shaq actually makes MORE money each year now than he ever did during his playing years, in contrast to many sportsmen who struggle to find their way after retirement. Shaq’s post-NBA business generates $20-$25 million in revenue annually. With organizations like Icy Hot, Gold Bond, Buick, Zales, and others, he has endorsement agreements. He is the joint owner of 155 Five Guys Burgers restaurants, 17 Auntie Annie’s Pretzels restaurants, 150 car washes, 40 24-hour fitness centers, a shopping center, a movie theater, and several Las Vegas nightclubs. That would be plenty to impress Bill Gates. In relation to that, did you know that Shaq has the strength to lift $70 billion with just his two hands?
Shaq learned that lesson his banker tried to teach him well. Shaquille’s own words:
“The amount of money you make is not important. The question is — are you educated enough to KEEP it.”
O’Neal is resolved not to end up as an NBA has-been, seeing the highlights of his youth appear on highlight reel after highlight reel as he gets older and counts his millions. Shaq aspires to stay the flamboyant character beloved by NBA fans, complete with a thousand watt smile and sparkle in his eye. He wants to be in your living room via his gig as an analyst on TNT’s “Inside the NBA”, on your Twitter feed, in the ads you fast forward through on your DVR. He wants to maintain his role as the wisecracking, amiable giant who persuades you to purchase Gold Bond lotion or one of his several other goods.
And make no mistake, Shaq is in the entertainment industry. He plays the goofball on “Inside the NBA” opposite Charles Barkley, Kenny Smith, and Ernie Johnson Jr. In reality, TNT was willing to let Shaq be Shaq, so Shaq selected it over an offer that would have placed him at ESPN.
Shaq’s agency actively searches for companies that O’Neal may endorse by grinning in his characteristic way. Shaq comes across as a big, overgrown, joyful kid throughout life, not just in his advertising deals and at TNT. Shaq’s endorsement income is increasing after retirement rather than declining, as is the case for the majority of sportsmen, because of his great likeability.
Shaq didn’t merely continue his schooling after leaving the NBA. He also set up a strategic meeting, called the Shaq Summit, where his endorsement partners gathered at his home in Orlando and made 15-minute presentations. In Los Angeles, he also hosted a Shaq Summit. He has picked up new gigs and endorsements at each of these events.
Some of Shaq’s endorsements are also directed at the so-called “ordinary” people. People who are unable to afford Shaq’s more expensive Reebok shoes can still purchase items from his more affordable collection, which retails for $20 to $40. “There are more people who make regular income than there are persons who make a lot of income,” is the justification.
Shaq’s likeability is the secret to his success in endorsements. He’s easy to talk to. You can say hello to him by approaching him. In fact, about a fifteen years ago, my friend was at a car wash in LA with her brand new Labrador puppy and Shaq came up to her and said “My foot is bigger than your puppy,” and asked if he could hold her and then got all gooey and sappy with Holly the puppy. He fits the bill.
Shaq himself is the secret to success. His pursuit of information. He wanted to be funny and interesting. The fact that if you happen to run into him at a car wash and let him play with your puppy you get the same guy with the same voice that says “Man up with Gold Bond.”
Shaq doesn’t require any of it, which is part of the problem as well. He doesn’t even count it, in fact. His money manager taught him how to invest more than a million dollars a year in annuities throughout the beginning of his NBA career. Now, only that money is more than enough to support a family. His six children benefit from his endorsement money. He says, “I have all the gadgets I want.