Yesterday, Shaquille O’Neal was at Rucker Park to promote the re-release of the Reebok Shaq Attaq IV and to act as a celebrity coach for the 2014 EBC Rucker Park All-Stars. In a wide-ranging interview, Shaq discussed his role as minority owner of the Sacramento Kings, DeMarcus Cousins, how he thinks the Knicks will do with the triangle offense and more.
Dime: Tell us about your involvement with the Kings and whether you get consulted on moves made by the team.
Shaq: I’m really involved. I talk to them all the time. I’m like a loud silent investor. Every now and then, they’ll consult me on moves. I’m not the main man, but I’m part of the team. Vivek [Ranadive] is the ultimate team player. Pete [D’Alessandro] is a team player. I’m not a loud owner that goes around and says I did this and I did that. But I’m there.
I was there when they designed the new arena. They called me the other day about a new practice facility, and asked me for my thoughts on whether they should build a new one or upgrade the old one. I told them the new one would cost us $30 million whereas the old one would cost $3 million. Most teams have practice facilities in the arena. I told them we don’t need to spend all that money, we could find a space to do that.
Dime: What have you been telling DeMarcus Cousins about improving his game?
Shaq: I tell him, ‘be yourself and dominate.’ First of all, if you don’t put numbers up, nobody’s going to look at you. Now that people are looking at you, you have to make them respect you. Sometimes when you do crazy stuff, nobody’s going to like it. But you can’t tame that passion. I want my big man to be mean. I don’t want my big man smiling all the time, so I don’t mind. All the greatest players were angry, and they talked all the time. Charles Barkley, myself, so many others. But we also put up numbers, we were positive and did the right things in the community.
Cousins will get technicals, he’s going to argue with the referees. That’s called passion and you never want to take a guy’s passion away. And not every guy has passion. I know, because I can give you five big guys right now who don’t have passion. I won’t tell you, but you know who they are.
Dime: What are your thoughts on Isaiah Thomas‘s departure to Phoenix?
Shaq: Isaiah and I are close. As players, we have to do what’s best for us. There was differences in the role and amount of money he wanted and things didn’t match up. He wanted to do something else. You can only wish him well.
Dime: How do you think Phil Jackson and Derek Fisher will do in New York with the triangle offense?
Shaq: They have to implement the triangle, embrace the triangle, love the triangle and master the triangle before they achieve any type of success. If any of those things are off, they might win some games and make the playoffs, but they won’t get to the level that everyone expects them to get to eventually.
The triangle is difficult, but it’s also easy. As players, sometimes you have to give up what you’ve got for the better of the team. See, I’m a master of slight manipulation. With the triangle in Los Angeles, it helped us because guys got open. It was easy. The offense ran through me and if I was tired I always looked to pass and get someone else involved. If I wasn’t tired and guys weren’t open, I went to work. My thing was always getting seven points a quarter. Once I got that, I’d look for Fisher, for Rick Fox, and then Kobe would do his thing. And suddenly, we were up 10 to 15 points in the second quarter.
If you look at the Bulls, they didn’t have a dominant big man and ran the triangle just fine. The Knicks have shooters. They’ve got guys who can play, but what they need now is consistency. They’re going to need a lot more from Carmelo, and consistency from J.R. Smith and all those guys. If they love the triangle and master it, they should be okay.
Dime: We noticed you’re wearing your championship ring from Miami today. How did this one compare to the other three titles you won in Los Angeles?
Shaq: I actually never wear my rings, but I was in my closet — where I keep all my rings — and I said let me wear this just one time. I went to the Football Hall of Fame induction event last month and everyone had their rings on, and I didn’t know you were supposed to wear your rings.
This title was pretty good compared to the others. I’m one of those players where if I win one, I want two. When I get two, I want three. Then I get three in a row, and I get greedy, I want four. I got traded, they said I was getting old, but I got my fourth. I’m always one of those guys who always wants more.
Dime: Carlos Boozer, Shawn Marion and several other players have a hip-hop compilation album coming out. Is there any current basketball rapper that can take the crown from you?
Shaq: Of course not. Of course not. But Stephen Jackson is pretty good.
Dime: The director of Sharknado has publicly said he’d like to have you for the third instalment. Have you seen the first two and are you interested?
Shaq: I was watching the first and second one last weekend and I said to myself, I’d love to be in Sharknado 3. I’d kill the sharks, eat them for dinner. I actually had my people call them so we’ll see what happens.
Shaq was wearing the Shaq Attaq IV, available on Reebok.com for $140
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