Of all of Shaquille O’Neal’s pranks throughout his decorated 19-year NBA career, only one moment still strikes fear into his old teammates.
According to the Orange County Register’s Mark Medina, the 7’1, 325-pound center often ran onto the Los Angeles Lakers’ practice floor butt-naked. The reason: He didn’t want to break the rule of being late to the center huddle.
“Shaq walked onto the court, put his hands up and said ‘I’m ready to practice,’” said Lakers assistant coach Mark Madsen, who was O’Neal’s teammate from 2000-03. “He had not one inch of clothing on. So he was there in all of his glory.”
That’s when, in typical Shaq fashion, things went from funny to flat-out ridiculous.
“He would start running around looking for guys to hug. Everybody was trying to get out of the way,” said O’Neal’s ex-teammate, Derek Fisher. “That’s why when I hit that shot in San Antonio in 2004, that’s why we were so good at sprinting off of the court.”
Fortunately, it won’t be naked Shaq whose lifesize statue will be unveiled outside of the Staples Center on Thursday. The figure will be modeled after his iconic, two-handed power dunks.
The recent Hall of Fame inductee had a remarkable career, winning three NBA championships in as many years. He claimed Finals MVP honors in each of those series, becoming the only player not named Michael Jordan to win that award three consecutive times.
Hopefully, O’Neal decides to wear some clothes this time around.