Back in 1992, when Reebok was looking to strengthen its presence on the basketball court, the brand teamed up with arguably the best pro baller in the league—Shaquille O’Neal. Smart move—after joining forces with Reebok, Shaq went on to become Rookie of the Year, and play in two of the most legendary basketball shoes of all time: the Shaq Attaq and the Shaqnosis.
We recently flew back from Las Vegas, where we heard the exciting news that Reebok Classic was re-launching the Shaq Attaq, a lightweight stability shoe that features pump technology on the tongue (remember that?). The 90s bringback drops on April 19 for $160 at select retailers, including Jimmy Jazz, Shiekh, Villa, City Gear, DTLR, Shoe Palace, and on Reebok.com. To celebrate the reissue of the throwback kicks, we had a chance to chat with Shaq about basketball, custom-built bikes, and the best advice he has for making yourself a success.
Men’s Fitness: What’s the achievement you’re most proud of in your career?
Shaquille O’Neal: [I’m proud of ] all of them. I was a low level juvenile delinquent that was always told that you’re never going to be anything. There were two people who believed in me—my father and my mother. Everything I’ve wanted to do, I’ve done it and I’ve done it my way. Wanted to do albums—done it. Wanted to do movies—done it. The good thing about me is I’m not done. I’m thinking about going to law school. I always took advantage of opportunities [and] there are still a lot of opportunities left. I just wake up every day and thank God.
MF: If you didn’t play basketball, what would you be doing?
SO: I would probably be a police officer, and then I would probably be military.
MF: What is the most difficult part of being so large?
SO: Nothing really. When I was young I was shy, but now I’m not shy anymore. I’m a people person. Only problem I have now is doorways. I don’t have any other problems. If there is a sports car that I want, I have to make sure there is enough room in the back seat. I [can have] the backseat cut out.
MF: Most outlandish custom made thing?
SO: I was walking down the street here [in Las Vegas] and [this guy] had something called a Las Vegas Trike, which was a Herman Munster-looking motorcycle. I said where did you get that, he said my shop is around the corner. He took me in the back and I said I want that one and that one.
MF: You played for six teams over the course of the career. Who was your favorite coach?
SO: I didn’t have a favorite coach. I played for six teams because for one, I’m used to a moving military background. I liked it being done my way. If it was being done my way, it was time to move on. Being the best player on the team, if it don’t go right, you’re going to get blamed for it. If I’m going to get blamed for it, you need to make me the CEO, CFO, and COO.
MF: What does it mean to you to have your shoes re-released?
SO: It was nice, it was an honor. Especially for kids. Kids these days, they have a lot of style, and kids take pride. At first it was Jordans, being the only one on the block or the only one at school [to have them].
MF: Best advice?
SO: Be true to yourself. Follow your dreams and be a leader, not a follower. There’s a difference between a role model and a real model. You look up the word “role” in the dictionary; it has something to do with playing a part. I think the reason why I’m still around at the tender age of 41 is that I keep it real, I don’t position myself to the world as being this perfect gentleman. If I do happen to make a mistake, hopefully parents do what my parents did and say, hey you don’t need to be like that guy anyway, be better than him. That’s what I teach my children: I don’t want you to be like me, because I did a whole bunch of things. I want you to be better than me. I think the ones that position themselves as being [better than everyone else], when they catch their ass doing something, that’s the problem. I’m educated, I always do the right thing and I always say the right thing, 90% of the time. [The other 10% of the time], I’ll be human.
Law: Detective O’Neal
Orlando Magic: Sell ‘em to me
Kobe: Good friend now
Rap Music: Pretty good
Big: Miss him
Chuck: Shut up
Celtics: Miss ‘em
Shaq Attaq: Buy ‘em