Q&A: Shaquille O'Neal

Posted by C.L. Anthony on Sunday, September 21, 2014 with No comments
Courtesy of John Reid 

You recently said you would like to see LSU's Pete Maravich Assembly Center renamed to honor former LSU coach Dale Brown. Why do you feel strongly about a name change when Maravich impacted both LSU and the NBA so greatly as a player?

I don't want to get into the argument and debate, but if I have to I will. But I know Dale Brown. I know what he's done to the community. I know what he's done for people. I know he has put his neck on the line many times for people. I know he has given back. Listen, I guarantee there are a lot of freshman at this university who don't know who Pistol Pete is. But I also guarantee they know who daddy Dale Brown is. I understand his name (Pete Maravich) is on it, but it can change. And then personally, I'm kind of upset. I see a lot of other new stuff going up (on LSU's campus), how come we can't get a new arena. Every time I come back, the football stadium is upgraded. Can we get something new and I tell you what – I'll help build something new. Again, I have nothing against Pistol Pete. I love Pistol Pete, but we can change. But the good thing about Baton Rouge, a lot of the old timers here are stubborn. We're going have to fight for that one. I already know to get that changed to Dale, that's going to be a fight. But that's just my opinion, I would like to see that.

NOLA.com | Times Picayune recently did a series on ranking Louisiana's 51 all-time greatest athletes and you were selected No. 2. What's your thoughts on the selection? 
I’m four. Pistol Pete is 1. I played with (former LSU guard) Chris Jackson and I’m putting him two. Then you have to go with Bob Pettit at three and then make me fourth. I can’t be disrespectful to ones that were much greater than me. Another one of my idols was (former LSU forward) Ricky Blanton. I used to love that dude. I was like Ricky at one point. I didn’t have a lot of talent, I had to just go off my gusto and my heart.

What do you think about the emergence of New Orleans Pelicans power forward Anthony Davis?

He’s real. I remember when he got hurt (last season), but he came back strong. His jumper looks nice. His legs look fresh. He runs the court and plays that defense. They are going to be a sleeper team this year.

Did you think LeBron James made the right decision to return home to play for the Cleveland Cavaliers after playing the last four seasons with the Miami Heat and winning two NBA championships?

The one thing they cannot say is that he hasn’t won. He has a little pressure to win in Cleveland, but not as much. If his career ended today, what he’s got – two titles. I thought it was a good thing. They are the team to beat now. But I’m concerned about their coach and their bench, but we’ll just have to see. The good thing for them is that the East isn’t really that tough. They’ll probably have to worry about Washington and maybe Chicago. I don’t even know about Miami. They’ll win some games, but they are not one of the contenders anymore.

Do you think the Oklahoma City Thunder is the team to beat in the Western Conference this upcoming season?

In the history of the game, every one-two punch – the one or the two  - has to sacrifice and step back. (Thunder guard) Russell Westbrook don’t step back enough for me. At some point for the betterment of the team, you’ve got to step back. Until Westbrook learns to step back, it may be hard for them. Kevin Durant is the man, but Westbrook is like I’m getting mine every time. You can’t do it.

What do you regret the most in your career?

The thing that haunts me the most is that I missed 250 games, especially when I was averaging high numbers. Right now, I'm sixth (on the NBA All-time scoring list with 28,596 total points). Lets just knock that in half (missed games), that’s another 3,000 points right there. That would put me at No. 3 or No. 2.  I missed 10,000 free throws. Lets just say I only missed 7,000, that’s another 3,000 points. I might be No. 2 right now. That’s the only thing that haunts me.

What is your prediction for the LSU football team this season?

We need to win the national championship because I’m tired of hearing about Alabama and Nick Saban. Yeah, I’m saying it. You can pray, you can email, yes we need to win that national championship. Period.

You are considered as a lock to be a first ballot selection into the Basketball Hall of Fame when you become eligible in three years. Are you anticipating your selection?

Its always been my ritual not to think about it until it happens. The only thing about it, the guy(his stepfather Phillip Harrison who died last year) who made me who I am won't be able to witness that. He used to tell me when I was little that I needed to get a sky hook like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. He told me when I block shots to don’t go crazy with it, but tap it to a teammate like Bill Russell used to do and I had to dominate like Wilt Chamberlain to make people fear you. Then once I became good, he said, ''Son you keep it up and you’ll be in the Hall of Fame.''

Can share your thoughts about the domestic abuse problems that continues to be a problem in the NFL?

I don’t have an opinion about it. However, it is a slippery slope to tell someone how to discipline their kids. Similar to what he (Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson, who faces child abuse charges) did, that’s how I got disciplined and it worked for me. My grandmother, who was 4 feet 9, told me to go outside and get one (a switch). She wasn’t playing. That’s the only issue I have a problem with. But then on the other side to go back – the kid was only four. So you have to look at both sides.