The NBA has experienced many shifts affecting how the game is played. One of those shifts is the visible absence of “big men.” Now more in tune with faster and more agile playing, the league was once filled with what some considered “true centers” regarding their overall size. And NBA legend Shaquille O’Neal was a part of that coveted group.
O’Neal entered the NBA as the No. 1 draft pick to the Orlando Magic in 1992, according to the NBA website. Coming from a successful collegiate career at LSU, the 7’1″ center quickly made a presence for himself as a star player for the Magic.
“Shaq put the Orlando Magic on the map – not just in the state of Florida or in the United States; he was this global phenomenon,’’ said Fox Sports Florida announcer and former Orlando Magic employee David Steele. “When we traveled, it was like a traveling rock show. Everybody wanted to see Shaq.’’
Throughout his basketball career, he played on six teams. However, O’Neal’s most notable on-court contributions were made with the Magic and during his days alongside Kobe Bryant with the Los Angeles Lakers where the team won three NBA Championship titles in a row.
During his impressive 19-year career, O’Neal would average 23.7 points, 10.9 rebounds, and 2.5 assists per game. According to the Basketball Hall of Fame, the NBA legend won a gold medal at the Olympics, was named NBA MVP in 2000, named the Rookie of the Year in 1993, and earned a total of four NBA Championships.
Based on data from Spotrac, O’Neal earned over $286 million throughout his career. However, the 51-year-old was strategic, and intentional off-court movement would center him in culture as an actor, rapper, and noted businessman.
The LA Times references an archived interview where O’Neal acknowledged the duality of his career.
“I’ve always been a businessman who is athletic,” O’Neal said in the interview.
According to Celebrity Net Worth, Shaquille O’Neal has amassed a fortune of $400 million. But let’s look into some of what helps contribute to this massive value.
Like many popular professional athletes, O’Neal pivoted from on-court to behind the mic. Known as Big Diesel, the former professional basketball player can be seen on TNT’s “Inside the NBA” providing commentary about recent sports events.
O’Neal is connected to high-profile food brands as well. He is a franchise owner and brand ambassador for Papa John’s and franchise owner of a Krispy Kreme, according to Franchise Times.
He is also the co-owner of Big Chicken, alongside his friend Matt Silverman and agent Perry Rogers.
A previous report from AfroTech noted that O’Neal once owned 17 Auntie Anne’s but sold them because “Black people don’t like pretzels that much.”
Investments and Likeness
In 2015, O’Neal sold the rights to his name and likeness to Authentic Brands Group (ABG). He is also the second largest shareholder of the organization.
Another AfroTech report noted that the father of six invested in Tiger Woods’ sports entertainment venture, TMRW Sports. He is joined by Kevin Durant, Rich Kleiman, and Dwyane Wade.
At one point, O’Neal stepped on the leadership side of basketball as part owner of the Sacramento Kings. However, he sold his minority stake in the Kings in 2022.
To The Future
Now, the future ownership of BET is up for grabs, and it is alleged that O’Neal, Kenya Barris, and 50 Cent are interested in joining forces to purchase the media company.