NYTIMES Q&A With Shaquille O’Neal | Responds to Kobe Diss

Players in this post:
Kobe Bryant Shaquille O’Neal

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My numbers speak for itself. My three finals M.V.P.’s speaks for itself.


Shaquille O’Neal was in Manhattan recently, dunking, grabbing rebounds and even making free throws. After announcing his retirement in June, was he preparing for a comeback after the lockout ends? No, that was the virtual Shaq, moving as he did in his prime. The real O’Neal was at the controls, christening the new digital download of EA Sports NBA JAM: On Fire Edition.O’Neal, an analyst on TNT, is hopeful there will be real basketball soon.

Q. Were you surprised that Derek Fisher, your former Lakers teammate, became the union president?
A. He was always a bright guy. Very, very smart. Very intelligent. Hopefully he can help both sides get a deal done.
Q. What do you think about player agents usurping Fisher and chief executive Billy Hunter and planning strategy for players?
A. It’s a touchy situation. Agents have always wanted to be in control. When the checks don’t come in, the players’ agents don’t get paid. So you have to look at what they’re doing it for. Are they doing it for their own pockets or are they doing it for the betterment of the players?
Q. What do you think about the 50-50 split in revenue offered by the owners and rejected by the players?
A. It’s difficult to really know what the numbers are. But Derek and Billy know what they’re doing. Hopefully they can get a deal done right away.
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Q. The pressing question fans want answered about the upcoming season is will Charles Barkley give you any airtime on TNT broadcasts?
A. I’m going to get all the airtime. I’m going to handle him like I’ve always handled him. I’m going to knock him out if I have to.
Q. Kobe Bryant reportedly criticized you when he was in Italy recently. “I like players who workout,” Bryant said, according to a post on Sportando. “I use to do that 6, 7 hours per day. I cannot stand players who practice for 30 minutes. I need to say something to them.” Any response?
A. No. I don’t need to work out. My numbers speak for itself. My three finals M.V.P.’s speaks for itself.
Q. What teams do you think can win the title?
A. Miami is going to come back strong. Boston’s going to come back strong. Orlando’s going to be up there. The Lakers are going to be there.
Q. What players do you enjoy watching?
A. Lebron, D-Wade, Kevin Durant. The guy I really like to watch is Blake Griffin.
Q. How will the Knicks and Nets do?
A. With the Knicks, Carmelo and Amar’e got together late. I think with a full season together they’ll be much better. The Nets? I don’t know who the Nets are.
Q. You’ve talked about owning a team someday. Do you still want to do that?
A. Yes. And I’m looking forward to bringing a team to Newark. I haven’t spoken to Mayor Booker about it yet, but I’m working on it. I know Newark can support an N.B.A. team. And I’m going to be one of the guys that’s going to bring a team there.
Q. How is your law enforcement career going?
A. I’m going to be running for undersheriff in Lake County, Florida.
Q. Is that the career you would have chosen if you did not play basketball?
A. I’d probably be an F.B.I. agent.
Q. What is your favorite career memory?
A. Just doing it my way and having a good time.
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Q. Worst career memory?
A. Losing against the Detroit Pistons. [The Lakers lost to the Pistons, 4-1, in the 2004 N.B.A. finals.]
Q. Any regrets?
A. None. But maybe the only regret I have was missing over 200 games due to injuries.

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