Five things you didn't know about Shaq

Shaquille O'Neal enjoyed a long, successful and colourful NBA career. Photo / Getty
Shaquille O'Neal enjoyed a long, successful and colourful NBA career. Photo / Getty

Whether you knew him as Superman, Diesel, The Big Aristotle or any of his other nicknames, there's no doubt Shaquille Rashaun O'Neal made an impact on every fan of basketball since bursting on to the scene with the Orlando Magic in the early 1990s.

Shaq's record speaks for itself: four NBA championships, one MVP award, three finals MVP awards and almost 30,000 points. But there's other less well-known tales from the seven-foot giant's journey you may not have heard.

So with the big man being inducted into basketball's hall of fame this weekend, here's five things you probably didn't know about Shaq.

He was meant to be with the Notorious B.I.G. the night the rapper was shot

A somewhat successful artist himself, Shaq formed a relationship with legendary Brooklyn rapper Christopher "Biggie Smalls" Wallace after hearing his name mentioned in the track Gimme The Loot.

Biggie even featured on Shaq's 1996 album You Can't Stop The Reign and the pair planned to see each other at the party hosted by Vibe magazine in Los Angeles on the night Wallace was shot.

In 2011, O'Neal told ESPN he failed to attend the party after falling asleep in his apartment. "I woke up about 4 o'clock from a call from my mother," Shaq said. "She said, 'Did you go to the party?' I'm like, 'No, what're you talking about?' She said, 'You know, your friend was shot and killed.' And I was like, 'What?' So then I hung up with her and called some people and they told me what had happened."

He threatened to kill Kobe Bryant at the height of their feud

Shaq's falling out with Lakers teammate Kobe Bryant is one of the most famous feuds in NBA history. After winning three championships together, their relationship was so toxic the Lakers had to ship Shaq to Miami.

In his book Shaq Uncut, the big centre revealed how it all fell apart. Bryant felt Shaq hadn't supported him after he was charged with sexual assault in 2003. Shaq was out of contract at the time and the duo would regularly squabble over basketball issues like sharing the ball and their commitment to the team.

"So I'm on edge because I don't have a new deal, and Kobe is on edge because he might be going to jail, so we're taking it out on each other," Shaq wrote. "Just before the start of the '03-'04 season the coaching staff called us in and said, 'No more public sparring or you'll get fined.'

"So what happens? Immediately after that Kobe runs right out to Jim Gray and does this interview where he lets me have it. He said I was fat and out of shape. He said I was milking my toe injury for more time off, and the injury wasn't even that serious. He said I was 'lobbying for a contract extension when we have two Hall of Famers playing pretty much for free'. I'm sitting there watching this interview and I'm gonna explode. Hours earlier we had just promised our coach we'd stop. It was a truce broken. I let the guys know, 'I'm going to kill him.'"

He wrote a letter to Halle Berry while he was in college ... and she wrote back

Another excerpt from Shaq's book detailed his infatuation with stunning actress Halle Berry.

"I remember being in the dorm room one night and we were watching the movie Jungle Fever with Halle Berry in it, and I thought she was so stunning, so I wrote her a letter," Shaq wrote. "I was just kind of kidding around, telling her I was a big fan and I'd love to meet her sometime.

"The guys totally goofed on me for doing it, but I didn't care. A few weeks later, no lie, Halle Berry wrote me back. She sent me a signed picture that I still have hanging in my office. Turns out she's a basketball fan. She wrote, 'I'm a big fan of yours, too. I can't wait until you get to the NBA.'"

He threw several teammates across the locker room during a dispute with Pat Riley

Bryant wasn't the only person to experience Shaq's wrath inside the locker room. He also went toe to toe with Miami coach Pat Riley when the Heat mentor started swearing at teammate Jason Williams for arriving late to practice.

"I tell Pat we're a team and we need to stick together, not throw guys out of the gym. Pat is screaming at me and says if I don't like it, then I should get the hell out of practice, too.

That's when I said, 'Why don't you make me?'" Shaq wrote in his book.

"I start taking a couple of steps towards Pat. Udonis Haslem steps in and I shove him out of the way. Then Zo (Alonzo Mourning) tries to grab me. I threw him aside like he was a rag doll. Now it's me and Riley face-to-face, jaw to jaw. I'm poking him in the chest and he keeps slapping my finger away and it's getting nasty. Noisy, too.

"He's yelling, 'F*** you!'" and I'm yelling back, 'No, f*** you!' Zo is trying to calm us both down and he has this kind of singsong panic in his voice. He keeps saying, 'Big fella, no. Big fella, big fella!' I finally turn around and tell him, 'Don't worry, I'm not going to hit the man. Do you think I'm crazy?'"

His marriage to his wife Shaunie fell apart because of his infidelities

Shaq has four children with his former wife Shaunie Nelson, who he married in 2002. They divorced in 2009 after Shaunie cited "irreconcilable differences".

In his book, Shaq admitted to infidelities. "At one time my ex-wife Shaunie and I were happy, but I admit it - I was a guy," he wrote. "I was a guy with too many options. Choosing to be with some of those women, well, that's on me.

"In my mind, I never did it disrespectfully, but obviously I shouldn't have done it all ... You know as well as I do relationships are about maintaining ... It wasn't the big stuff, it was the small stuff, and that's my fault.

"I had things to do. I was trying to win, trying to make some money. I admit I wasn't the best partner. I just didn't know how."

- news.com.au

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