Shaquille O'Neal shares how a slap from his dad made him tear the entire basket down every time he dunked the ball from that moment moving forward in his life.
A slap from his dad changed his perspective
While making an appearance on the Knuckleheads podcast, Shaquille O'Neal talked about the moment he decided to dunk the ball every single time as hard as possible. When Shaq first came to the NBA, he literally destroyed the entire construction a few times he went for a dunk. He did the same thing when he was in college at LSU, but it all started in high school after his father disciplined him for missing a layup.
To give more context Shaq's dad was in the military and was incredibly strict and tough on Shaq ever since he was a kid. When he saw his son messing around in a high-school game, he lost it and made sure to let his son know how he felt about him goofing around in the game.
"I was in high school playing against some little guys. I'm supposed to be dunking. I'm not dunking; I don't want to dunk. I want to lay it up, finger roll, but I miss it. My dad walked on the court, drill sergeant, and tells me to call a timeout. I call a timeout. I go outside. He said, man what you doing and I said I'm working on my Dr.J, Magic shit and then he smacked me. Ain't no Magic, Dr.J. You are Shaq, be Shaq. That is why every time I dunk, I try to rip the rim off because I was mad at him."
A few possessions afterward, Shaq dunked the ball so hard he broke the rim for the first time in his life. At that specific moment, rage and anger was the primary motivator for Shaq, but soon after, he realized his strength and size were a gift, and he should use it to his advantage.
"So when my dad punched me, I didn't cry, but I've got tears in my eyes. I break the rim, and I look at him; he don't smile or nothing. He is just looking at me like you are supposed to do that. First time he told me, a good game was after my first championship. He loved the game, and he wanted perfection."
Shaq just wanted to win
After finally finding out what he is really good at in basketball and perfecting that aspect of the game, Shaq felt comfortable in his own skin. Like every other basketball player, he wanted to do it all on the court. Even though he was a center already in high school, he wanted to play like a guard, shoot the ball, cross people up, and all that fancy stuff. But with the help of his father, he realized he needed to dominate the game in his own way.
"I wanted to fade away and cross people up, but that was my niche, just to, you know, beat people up. I wasn't trying to be the best I was just trying to win."
Even though Shaq wasn't the first player to tear up the entire basket while dunking the ball, several others have done it before. Darryl Dawkins, also known as Chocolate Thunder, was the first one who did it consistently until the league told him to stop it or he would get fined big time. After Shaq did, the NBA now has a rule where there must always be a backup hoop/goal in every arena.