Skip to main content

“That's when I started winning championships” — Shaquille O'Neal on the training regimen that changed his career

Shaquille O'Neal reveals that he wasn't necessarily training as a basketball player during the peak of his career.

To become the most dominant force in NBA history, one could assume that Shaquille O’Neal spent countless hours on the hardcourt, working on his post moves and perfecting his technique. Part of this is true, as Shaq didn’t just spend long nights on the basketball court; he also locked himself inside an octagon.

Winning championships in bunches

To be in tip-top shape, NBA stars try different training regimens and methods. Some even try out other sports to serve as some form of cross-training. Shaq revealed that he started winning championships when he stepped out of the basketball court and into the cage. O’Neal admitted that during offseasons, he was aiming to be in wrestling shape. And that proved to be the formula for his success.

I never came back in wrestling shape. I always come back in basketball shape, but basketball, for me, I had to run, jump and wrestle. So, once I started training MMA like… when I stopped training basketball and just started training MMA, that’s when I started winning championships,” O’Neal said, per the Big Podcast with Shaq.

In hindsight, it all makes a lot of sense. While Shaq was a basketball player, he wasn’t necessarily dribbling and shooting all the time. Rather, he was camping in the paint, moving and throwing bodies around — just like an MMA fighter. Up to a certain extent, we can say that this is also the main reason why Shaq sucked at the free throw line. His body wasn’t just tuned to be a basketball player but a cage fighter.

Scroll to Continue

Recommended Articles

Different era

It’s difficult to imagine a similar training regimen to work in this era. While there’s still a ton of physicality involved in today’s game, big men need to possess more finesse than brute these days. Getting too muscular and robust is not ideal as it could be easily countered with speed and quickness.

A good example is Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo. Some have compared him with Shaq as they seemingly move their defenders’ bodies around like crash test dummies. The comparison stops when Giannis starts running the fast break and Euro stepping. Unlike Shaq, Giannis is a versatile defender who could stay in front of quick guards or hefty big men.

Whatever the case may be, Shaq’s revelation about his training regimen is definitely an eye-opener. It all makes perfect sense to his victims like Vlade Divac, Dikembe Mutumbo, Todd MacCulloch, Scott Pollard, and a slew of others. They didn’t have any shortcomings. Shaq was way just ahead of the curve.

Skip Bayless on the 2022-23 Los Angeles Lakers and Darvin Ham

Skip Bayless makes a bold prediction about the Los Angeles Lakers and Darvin Ham -"Darvin Ham is a slam dunk to win Coach of the Year”

Bayless believes that if the Lakers win more than 50 games this upcoming season, that means that Darvin Ham would deserve to win Coach of the Year

Los Angeles Lakers forward Lamar Odom with Kobe Bryant

Lamar Odom reveals Kobe Bryant came to him in his dreams: "The afterlife ain’t what people make it up to be"

Odom has such a strong tie to his Lakers teammate Kobe Bryant that he talks to him in his dreams

shaq-julius-erving

“F**k Dr. J, you be Shaq.” - Shaquille O’Neal recollected how his father encouraged him to create his own identity

Shaquille O'Neal's father Phillip Harrison played a major role in shaping his basketball career.

Larry Johnson

Larry Johnson reflects on his college and NBA career while also sharing what Zion Williamson needs to do be dominant in the NBA: "I think Zion needs to dunk more"

We interviewed Larry Johnson and talked about his college and NBA career while Larry also shared what Zion Williamson needs to do to be dominant in the league and why Kawhi Leonard is currently his favorite player in the NBA

Cristiano Ronaldo and Luka Doncic

“I was so nervous, I couldn’t even talk” — Luka Doncic recalled the time he met Cristiano Ronaldo

There was one thing Luka wanted to ask, but was too nervous to pull the trigger on his request.

Paul Westhead and Spencer Haywood

"I drove through the streets plotting the man's murder" — When former Los Angeles Lakers forward Spencer Haywood almost killed head coach Paul Westhead

Hall of Fame legend Spencer Haywood talks us through the night he plotted to kill his head coach Paul Westhead.

Phil Jackson and Jeanie Buss

"Dating somebody and disclosing that, that's not against team policy." — Robert Horry on why Phil Jackson didn't get the Ime Udoka treatment for dating Jeanie Buss

The Buss family was "extremely shocked", and unpleasantly so, but the fact the relationship was disclosed made all the difference.