It took me a long time to get around to this book, but not a long time to read and that wasn’t because of the ‘Large Print’ edition I was accidentally ordered for Christmas. Then again, a larger than life character like Shaquille O’Neal could only do it B.I.G. like this. The only reason it took me so long to get around to this tell-all autobiography penned only months after his retirement announcement was because I was still finding it hard to accept that the most entertaining figure in basketball, who got an 11 year-old English kid from a small seaside town in the U.K. into this great sport of basketball, was done playing.
The same kid, now 26, purposely shaped his American holiday last April around trying to catch a glimpse of the big fella in action before he retired while in Boston, Chicago and Miami, even if it was for the Celtics and even if it was in the twilight of his career. I still had dreams of Jeanie, that the Buss family would bring Shaq back to L.A. for an All-Star redeeming, reunion with Kobe for one more go at Larry O’Brien. Still, literally the biggest star of the NBA called it a one of a kind career.
It seems whether on or off the court, Shaq was always going at full-speed and never running on fumes. Whether it be his jaw and rim dropping power plays, his generous charity work, or extra-curricular entertaining activities, Shaq always kept us interested. It’s little wonder he crafted the follow up to his funny first autobiography, Shaq Talks Back so quickly, of course with the help of another Hall Of Famer in the form of Jackie MacMullan, the co-writer of Magic Johnson and Larry Bird’s New York Times Bestselling When The Game Was Ours dual autobiography. Jackie really brings everything together with her descriptive, nostalgic chapter openings and stories.
THE BIG ARISTOTLE
Coming out around the same time as Jerry West’s highly anticipated book West By West: My Charmed, Tormented Life, this is another great gift that many Laker fans would have loved to have found under their trees this Christmas. Another purple and gold Laker legend colors his career over his scribes. Of course with Shaq, you’re bound to get more than a few smiles and belly laughs. Just check out what he bench pressed during one Celtic team talk last year in one of the last chapters. Still, Shaquille knows how to move us with his words. The ‘Little Warrior’ details his upbringing and troubles that he didn’t over-indulge in complaining about during his career. There is also a fitting and moving tribute to his late, great friend – the legendary rapper, Notorious B.I.G.
The NBA’s biggest star shows focus throughout these pages as he talks about his approach to the game and how the league works. Telling stories of how he developed his Magic passing skills in Germany when he couldn’t dunk, and then sealed with the blow of a kiss the moment the light hit him. That when it was time to discuss his days at LSU, Shaq’s nostalgia paints a picture of him we’ve never seen before. He also gives us a deep, through inside-knowledge analysis of his teammates, peers and the players that rule the league now and how far they can and should go. Shaq may be an NBA analyst on T.V. now, but if that gig ever falls by the wayside he could seriously make it as a sportswriter.
Next Page: Shaq Talks Teammates, Off-Court Hobbies