Shaquille O'Neal was a fierce competitor before and during his NBA career. The Los Angeles Lakers legend always went out there trying to demolish his rivals and did it most of the time. He retired as a 4x NBA champion, 1x regular-season MVP, 3x NBA Finals MVP, and more, becoming the most dominant player of all time in the process.
It wasn't an easy journey, but O'Neal knew how to adapt to every difficult situation he lived in throughout his life, which made him the tough player and person he currently is. Being a freak of nature, Shaq was too much for his rivals, which is why one of his former coaches was harder on him, throwing the player into the fire and making him go against grown men.
O'Neal played at Cole High School as a teenager, where his coach was ready to tough him up and made him go against older people.
Shaquille O'Neal Played Against Adults As A 14-Year-Old High Schooler
During a 2018 appearance on Oprah Winfrey's 'Oprah’s Master Class’ podcast, the Big Diesel recalled how hard it was for him to adapt to high school simply because he wasn't playing against regular high schoolers. Shaq revealed that his coach had different plans for him and things got tough.
“I get to Texas, and I get to the school, and I tell the coach, ‘I never played high school basketball but I was all-Europe in DYA,'” said the Lakers legend, via Essentially Sports. “He was like, ‘Okay’ and he threw me some football pads and said, ‘Go out and do football drills’. So after they leave, I just practice, practice, practice…go back to the gym every day.”
“You got a 14-year-old kid playing against 18 or 19-year-old men… 20-year-old men,” said Shaq. “They are beating me up, throwing me around, calling me soft and calling me a wimp, and calling me all types of names. But being raised by a drill sergeant, you’re programmed never to quit,” he added.
O'Neal admitted that going through those situations made him tougher and a better player. Things weren't that easy for him, but he took the best out of that situation. He also had his times when he was cocky, and until somebody called him out, he was being arrogant.
Shaq has lived a very entertaining life, and it seems like everything started at a young age. He would become a huge NBA legend, winning many individual and collective awards and leaving a huge mark on the association. Some say he could have been a lot better, but Shaq still had a legendary career.