Happy Birthday to Shaq and All His Alter Egos
Happy birthday, Shaq!
On this date in 1972, you were born in Newark, N.J. You would eventually blossom into a first-ballot Hall of Famer, one of the most dominant big men of all time (even if you couldn't quite hit those free throws).
But this isn't about your MVP or your four NBA titles...for you have always been a man of far more depth. Actor, rapper, Santa Claus impersonator: Shaq Diesel, you've done it all.
So let us celebrate your 42nd birthday by remembering the various roles you have assumed over the years.
Shaq as Pitchman
Shaq has hawked a variety of products over the years, from Gold Bond to Dove to Buick.
But one of his more famous commercials involved him and fellow legendary big Hakeem Olajuwon fighting over which taco shell is better: crunchy or soft.
That's right, kids: Kevin Love and Nate Robinson were not the first NBA players to star in a Taco Bell commercial.
Here is a clip of one of their commercials. Yes, there was indeed a time when Spike Lee did ads instead of spending all his days wandering the sidelines of MSG dressed like a homeless person.
Shaq as Lego
According to the IMDB.com, Shaq had a a cameo in the highest-grossing film so far in 2014, The Lego Movie.
It makes sense that the Lego people would approach the big man, as he has a long history of collaboration with the toy world.
Who could forget the Shaq Attaq toy line (and that jingle)?
Not only does he become toys, but he also has been known to distribute them as Shaq-A-Claus, according to USA Today.
Shaq as Genie
According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, genie is a derivation of the word jinni, a supernatural spirit from Arabic mythology:
Jinn are beings of flame or air who are capable of assuming human or animal form and are said to dwell in all conceivable inanimate objects—stones, trees, ruins—underneath the earth, in the air, and in fire.
It naturally follows, then, that a jinni can reside in an enchanted boombox and take the form of Shaq Daddy. And that is exactly what happened in the 1996 film Kazaam.
Here is a clip from the movie. Enjoy the acting.
Shaq as Media
Once he retired as a player, Shaq's lively personality made him the natural choice to join Charles Barkley, Ernie Johnson, Kenny Smith and Chris Webber in TNT's Inside the NBA booth.
Shaq's willingness to get silly has often turned Barkley into the sour-faced straight man, and the two heftiest players in the studio (by far) have taken every opportunity to make light of the other's weight.
But perhaps Shaq's best dig at the Chuckster came when he saw the preview of Barkley carrying a notebook during his All-Star weekend interview with President Barack Obama: "Why does he have that notebook? Everyone knows Chuck can't read!"
Shaq as Steel
Actually, Shaq is Steel's alter-ego, John Henry Irons, in this photo.
For those of you who haven't seen the movie (and I assume that is most of you), the Diesel plays a 7'1", 300-pound advanced weapons designer for the military. Believable so far, am I right?
But when some diabolical villain (played by Judd Nelson of The Breakfast Club) starts selling those weapons to inner-city gangs, Shaq teams up with Richard Roundtree (better known as the original Shaft) and child actor Ray J (better known as Kim Kardashian's ex-boyfriend) to create a super suit out of material they found in the junkyard.
Here is a clip. Watch out for the puns.
Shaq as Point Guard
Shaquille O'Neal: point guard? Only in the All-Star Game.
The loosey-goosey style of All-Star weekend always gave Shaq a chance to strut his stuff.
This particular gem comes from the 2007 game. Watch (starting at the 0:38 mark) as Shaq dribbles between his legs and tries to hit Mehmet Okur with a little stutter-step.
Perhaps the craziest thing about that video is the realization that Mehmet did, in fact, make an All-Star team.
Shaq as Rapper
Ah, Shaq the rapper.
While his short-lived musical career may be seen as a joke by this point, SoulTrain.com's Antonio Maurice Daniels pointed out that "some artists who have been in the music industry far longer than Shaq have not surpassed his artistic success."
Among those achievements were one platinum record Shaq Diesel and one gold record Shaq Fu: Da Return. He worked with such hip-hop luminaries as Method Man, RZA, Redman and Mobb Deep.
Even the Notorious B.I.G. lent a verse to the single "You Can't Stop the Reign."
Shaq as the Worst Boxer Ever
If Shaquille O'Neal connects with a punch, there's very little hope for his victim. Fortunately, he has shown time and again that he can't hit the broad side of a barn.
The best example was his "fight" with Chicago Bulls big man Brad Miller.
The TNT crew had some fun with the replay in the clip above. First of all, Shaq swats at Miller like a drunken sumo wrestler, missing by a good two feet. Second, as both Kenny Smith and Charles Barkley pointed out, Charles Oakley was the guy who fouled him in the first place.
Shaq didn't seem to be in a hurry to tangle with the menacing Oakley. But he had an excuse: "We all know Oakley plays like that; Brad don't play like that."