Shaq talks Lakers' future and coaching at the Rucker Park Classic
Shaquille O’Neal is best known as one of the most dominant NBA champions of all time, but he also has many other titles to his name.
Actor, cop, rapper and now you can add coaching to his long list of accomplishments as well.
This summer, Shaq will be leading Team Maybach Music Group (MMG), in the legendary Entertainers Basketball Classic (EBC), tournament held at Rucker Park.
This year the tournament will be celebrating its 30-year anniversary and it’s obvious there is nobody larger than Shaq in the game of basketball.
TheGrio sat down with the Big Diesel before his team took the court. We touched on coaching at the Rucker, why he would never coach professionally, his partnership with Reebok and what the Los Angeles Lakers need to do to remain competitive after the departure of Dwight Howard.
TheGrio: This summer you’re coaching Team MMG in the EBC tournament. How did you get involved?
Shaquille O’Neal: I got a call from the boss lady (Reebok) right here and she asked if I wanted to do it. I wish I had come out here when I was younger to play – I’m kicking myself about that one. I knew I would have been made for this. I just want to come out here and see some young players perform and hopefully we have a good time.
Legends are known to get involved with the EBC, tell us what it means to you to be a part of such a tournament?
Man, I’ve always been jealous of these guys. I actually did an experiment with my oldest son that turned out quite nice. I taught him all about the Rucker first! All the And-1 tapes, All the Ball Out Tapes. He knows the guys like ‘Sick Wit It, Hot Sauce, all of them guys. Now I’m going back and teaching him the basics. I coach his team in the summer. He’s 13, 6’4”, and he can play. He’s got it all. Like I said I was always jealous of these guys. I was the first big guy to ever do street stuff in a game.
So, now that you’re coaching at EBC and you coach your son in the summer. Has the coaching bug spilled over to wanting to do this on the collegiate or professional level?
Never! No! See I’m from the old school! Ya’ll are different, ya’ll are just different. Not to get too much into it but ya’ll are just different. Coaching in college or the pros? Never!
Tell me about the re-release of your shoes, what are your thoughts on that?
It’s been big. Shout out to the young kids that are bringing them back. And they actually look better now! They look better now in 2013 than when I designed them. You know when I designed them I was actually watching the Twilight Zone (starts humming theme song); I had called the guys up at Reebok and said why don’t you put that in a shoe. Nobody liked it at the time, but they’re bringing it back and the kids love them now.
What makes the partnership with Reebok special the 2nd time around?
It’s special because they have enough they have enough smart people who are smart enough to say, “The kids are into this right now. It’s trending, so let’s bring it back.” A lot of other people don’t want to do that, so shout out to the big people at Reebok finally listening to the kids.
As one of the greatest Lakers of all time, put your GM hat on for a second, and tell us what you feel they need to do to now to get back to competing at a high level.
They just need to get a couple marque players. It’s all about marquee players, health, positioning and a whole lot of luck. Last year a couple key players were unhealthy, and then Kobe went out in the end so you never know.