It’s been over 7 years since I left the Los Angeles Lakers and one of the most frequent questions people ask me is:
“Is it true that Shaquille O’Neal bought you a car when you showed up at training camp the first year?”
When I think of Shaquille I think about so many things and I wanted to share my top ten Shaq Stories from everything I know about him.
10) One year we were in Florida on an East Coast trip for Thanksgiving. The entire team was stuck in Florida with nothing to do so Shaq invited all the players, coaches, trainers, etc. over to his home and had an amazing Thanksgiving catered in. The food was awesome and after the meal, he gave us a tour of his house.
When he showed us his room, he showed us a nice flat panel TV and then said, “I used to have all the latest electronics, remotes, and everything in this room….now instead of the electronics, I’ve got diapers for my little ones.” He was beaming, has always loved his family, and frequently brought his wife and kids to the Staples Center to share the experience. He continued on the tour and showed us a new addition he was putting on his house. Samaki Walker asked “How many square feet are you adding?” Shaq answered with “10,000 square feet.” Samaki was amazed and said “Are you serious?” Shaq’s reply was “Hey man, you only live once.”
9) Before one of my last regular season games as a Laker on the road in Memphis, I was sitting in the locker room trying to get ready for the game mentally. All of a sudden, I look up and before I know it Shaq wants to wrestle. Next thing I knew we were in a full out wrestling match. Imagine trying to push around a 335 pound 7 foot man around who wasn’t even trying very hard to pin you. All I know is that after a minute or two I had given it may all and I was exhausted. Shaq let up but everyone in the locker room was loose an relaxed after the moment of fun. I’m not sure how I had the energy left to play the game, but I ended up playing one my better games and had 10 points which almost never happened. After the game Shaq said, “Nice game Mark, now I see that I need to wrestle you every game.”
8) Sitting in the locker room before a game in Milwaukee Shaq said something like “Anybody here know what the Pythagorean Theroem is?” Brian Shaw at that point was saying something like “What are you talking about Shaq?” [content_ads float=”left”]
(Those were great friends from their Orlando days and they always messed with each other). Then Shaq went on to compare himself to the Pythagorean Thereom and said, “The Pythagorean Theorem is complicated, tough to figure out and I’m the same way. By the time the other team starts to figure me out [each game] I’ve got 29 [points] 13 [rebounds] and 5 [assists] and it’s too late.”
7) There was a cute flight attendant on one of the Lakers charters and I happened to be sitting next to Shaq. He looked right at her and said to her “Are you a mormon?” He knew I was mormon and single and next thing you know he’s asking a flight attendant if she happened to be mormon and if she was, that she should meet me. All this happened with me sitting right there. She happened to be of another religious faith, but trust me I will never forget that!! THEN, a few weeks later, a single member of the Lakers front office came up to me at the Staples Center and said “The most interesting thing happened last night….I’m sitting in a restaurant in Redondo Beach and Shaq was in there asking some of the girls if they were mormon because if they were, he wanted to set them up with you.”
The last three times I’ve seen Shaq the first question he asks me is “Are you married or engaged yet?” I’ve told him I’m “still working on it,” and he then always says, you better let me know when it happens because we’re coming to the wedding.