Dealing with pressure is something professional athletes have to go through daily, and it’s usually related to their performance on the court. People in general deal with pressure every day and some have the tolerance and mindset to deal with different types of challenging situations that happen in their lives.
In contrast, others can’t similarly deal with those things, and the perspective on how they view it is different. In a recent interview for All Things Covered, Shaquille O’Neal talked about his wake up call when he realized he was living in a fairy tale and the outside world was much different.
According to Shaq, he had a bad game against the Knicks and his favorite player, Patrick Ewing, and when he talked with his dad about it he told him he was under pressure, which resulted in a bad game. His dad was a career army sergeant and a strict, organized person but had a good sense for people around him and if they need any help. Shaq recalls his dad taking him to see one homeless family that he was already supporting him and showing him what pressure is in life. It was a wake-up call for Shaq, who immediately took care of the family and arranged a job for the family’s father.
The pressure is not knowing when your next meal is coming from. One day after a game against the NY Knicks I had a terrible game, and my father told me get your ass on the plane and get home now. He asked me if I couldn’t take the pressure, and I said yeah, the pressure got to me. He said, get your ass in the car, and there was this homeless family he used to take care of. It was a guy, his wife, and two kids in the middle of the street. He said, this is pressure, god damn you, and then he tells me to get out of the car. He told me to take care of them, and I got them a place to stay for a year. I found out the guy is pretty good in the gardening world, so I hooked him up with a guy that had his own gardening service and got him a job. I took them to Best Buy, where I got him some TV and furniture, and he was able to take care of that family.Shaquille O’Neal, via All Things Covered
Modern athletes in the NBA nowadays make a lot of money, and in Shaq’s mind, that is one reason why there shouldn’t be any pressure. The only thing you need to do is perform at the best of your abilities, and usually, everything else takes care of itself. Humility is something Shaq learned at an early age and learned his kids to act in the same way.
I realized that when you sign and get paid that guaranteed contract, there ain’t no pressure. You just have to go out and perform. They paid me all this money, and now I’m trying to get some new money, or I have to let people know I’m worth this money. I always tell my kids there is no pressure.Shaquille O’Neal, via All Things Covered
This type of story coming from Shaq is not unusual for him because there were numerous times when he helped out other people who were struggling financially. Similar comments about being under pressure also came from Damian Lillard, also known as someone involved in the community and understands what hard work is. When you have that amount of money at your disposal, as Shaq talked about, and if you are normal and educated, you don’t have many worries in your life than to do your best and do everything the team expects from you in games.