In his prime, the only person that could stop Shaq was Shaq, and that’s why he is considered the most dominant force in the history of the NBA. But, Shaq didn’t rest on his laurels. He wanted more and is making sure his children don’t take what they have for granted either.
We all know Kobe had a problem with Shaq’s lackadaisical approach to basketball at times, primarily the (lack of) effort O’Neal put into his body during the offseason. The narrative is straightforward – Shaq is so gifted that he could slack in the summer and still kick ass. That, combined with his willingness to be the class clown, made O’Neal seem content with what he was given. But, same as Kobe, Shaq also wanted more and was willing to work for it.
As dominant he was on the court, the same can be said about Shaq off the court. His greatest success is, without a doubt, all the charity work and joy Shaq brings to people around him with his numerous acts of kindness. Those are possible because O’Neal is one of the most successful businessmen in NBA history. That success wouldn’t happen without a lot of learning.
Shaq finished his bachelor’s at LSU while with the Lakers in 2000. Phil Jackson let him miss a home game to go to his graduation ceremony. “Now I can get a real job,” said O’Neal addressing the crowd. While on the Miami Heat, Shaq finished an online MBA degree at the University of Phoenix. When asked why he keeps getting degrees with all the titles and money on this resume, O’Neal demonstrated he doesn’t take any success for granted.
“It’s just something to have on my resume for when I go back into reality. Someday I might have to put down a basketball and have a regular 9-to-5 like everybody else.”Shaquille O’Neal, MSNBC
He didn’t stop there. After finishing his career, Shaq got an educational doctorate at Barry University and received his Ed.D. degree in Human Resource Development in 2012. Setting such academic high standards for himself while being one of the best basketball players in the world gave Shaq the legitimacy to expect the same from his children.
“I’m not giving you nothing”
We heard about many wealthy people publicly pledging most of their fortune to charity, stating that their kids have to earn their way through life. To make it clear, I’m sure Bill Gates’ kids don’t have to worry about a real estate loan or healthcare costs. But if they want luxury in their life, or an opportunity to build their business empire, they have to earn it for themselves. Shaq has the same approach to making sure his kids stay humble and don’t take what they have for granted.
Again, they’re probably wearing Gucci and LV in the photo, so there’s no need to shed a tear for the O’Neal kids. But Shaq has a strict policy – there’s a criterion they have to fulfill to get a chance to pitch their idea to dad. “You gotta have Bachelors or Masters. If you want me to invest in one of your companies, you’re gonna have to present it, bring it to me. I’m not giving you nothing.“
Getting too much too soon, without earning it, only brings trouble. Shaq wants to make sure his kids understand what it takes to make the money they have before they get a chance to reap the benefits of their dad’s success, and that lesson is probably the most valuable thing he’ll ever give them. This actually connects to today’s NBA in a way.
Michael Jordan predicted situations like the Ben Simmons drama almost 20 years ago on Oprah, explaining that the NBA’s problem is that young kids get too much too soon. To remind you, this was in 2005.
“Now they get that before they play one game. In essence, you’re paying the kid off of potential that he may be great. It sets a bad work ethic. When you get something so easily, you’re not gonna work as hard.”Michael Jordan, Oprah Show
Shaq obviously gets that and makes sure there are no holdouts and impromptu vacations in the O’Neal household. Respect and opportunity are earned; they are not given – if only the NBA were more like the O’Neal’s.