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

Shaquille O'Neal broke 19 basketball rims throughout his career.
Shaquille O'Neal and Julius Erving

Shaquille O'Neal and Julius Erving

Shaquille O'Neal is one of the most celebrated NBA players, who dominated the league with his physicality. His larger-than-life personality shined through on and off the court, and it continues to leave an impact to this day. Shaq's a four-time NBA champion and is still associated with the league as an analyst – with the most straightforward takes.

While O'Neal, in hindsight, has come a long way – making his name synonymous with the NBA in some regards, the path wasn't easy.

Being Shaquille O'Neal

Like most people who love the sport of basketball, Shaq watched and followed the NBA as a kid. He had several idols he considered modeling his game after; however, his father, Phillip Harrison, could see a lot more potential in him.

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Harrison was a catalyst in O'Neal's career, providing him the right guidance and motivation to make it big professionally. Shaquille O'Neal recently recollected one incident that inspired him to put his name on the map – alongside other NBA greats.

"One time I had 45 points at halftime and I go to finger roll and I miss, and my father calls a timeout. … 'F*** Dr.J, you be Shaq'. So, I was so mad at him, I told the guys - 'Don't nobody shoot, give me the ball.' And I was just trying to tear the rim down. … But when I was doing that, I realized that I was intimidating," Shaq recollected on the 'Impaulsive' podcast.

Shattering rims

The ferocity O'Neal played with made him a very difficult person to guard, but it also caused a lot of problems for the arenas in which he played. He has reportedly broken 19 rims in his career, including ripping down the entire backboard as a rookie with the Orlando Magic in 1992-1993.

The NBA, at one point, had to change the entire technology of their backboards because a strong dunk from the big man ruined its suspension. While some of the 19 rims would include the ones he broke at practice, O'Neal is still proud of that uncanny achievement. He even has a 'Broken Rim Tree,' a sculpture made out of all the broken rims, resembling the branches of a tree.

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