Being the son of a former NBA player and playing basketball at the same time is not always easy. Especially when the father in question was a great player. But when it comes to an authentic legend like Shaquille O’Neal, almost impossible to surpass, it’s probably even more difficult.
Shareef O’Neal knows this. But, a few hours from the Draft, it does not seem to be a bad experience. “I know the comparison will always be there,” he assures ESPN. “All children are compared to their father, when they do the same thing as them. That does not bother me. »
What bothered the former LSU player the most was Shaquille O’Neal’s opinion of his career. Because the 2000 MVP and four-time NBA champion was not very excited about the idea of seeing his offspring embark on the NBA.
“We got a little hung up on this process,” confirms Shareef, passing through Los Angeles for a workout with the Lakers. “He wanted me to stay in college. He knows I’m experimenting with franchises. But I’m not going to lie, we didn’t talk about any of that. He didn’t want me to do any of this and I know he probably wouldn’t want me to say it, but sorry. We are grown-ups, we will overcome that. »
“I know he’s an NBA legend, he’s my dad, but I have to do this. Whether he likes it or not, that’s not going to stop me.”
Isn’t it difficult to challenge your father on such a subject, moreover one of the best players of all time?
“He didn’t like that idea, not at all. It sucks, but I’m an adult, I’m 22, I can make my own decisions. It’s in front of me, I’m not going to back down, I’m going to see. I am built like this. I take it that way, and for my heart operation, it was the same. I don’t back down from anyone. I know he’s an NBA legend, he’s my dad, but I have to. Whether he likes it or not, that’s not going to stop me. »
Shaq’s son doesn’t have his dad’s credentials coming out of LSU and he has to prove himself to the franchises to earn a spot in the NBA. O’Neal senior him, drafted in first position in 1992, did not need to know this process.
“He didn’t do any workout before the Draft, he went directly to Orlando, so it’s different. We don’t have the same stories. I experienced things that he did not have to experience. He was the first choice of the Draft, I had to fight, a lot even, in the face of heart surgery, foot injuries. So I’m not trying to be in his shadow. »