Shaq's Third Autobiography
Where he reveals he's pretty much the best at everything
By Will Schmidt, 6:44PM, Tue. Nov. 29, 2011
Shaquille O'Neal is undoubtedly one of the greatest centers to ever play pro basketball. The proof is in the championship banners, the all-star appearances, and the record books.
Piling up buckets and rebounds, blocks and victories, the Shaq-Man (as I like to call him) has become, in retirement, the greatest center of the last 20 years (with minor apologies to Dreamy Hakeem and Tim Duncan).
In his swan song, the Shaq-Man tied a nice little ribbon on something that comes around as often as a walking octopus, for it was on the basketball court where O'Neal was as dominant as any other, and his abilities will be missed – maybe – by some.
So, of course, when any personality the size of Shaq's finishes such a beautiful chapter of life that is their NBA playing career, they must hire a little helping hand and write down the story. Autobiographies by professional athletes are often known for their motivation, their inspiration, and for their humility in what it takes to be the best. But of course, this is Shaquille O'Neal, and with his mighty pen comes an autobiography of a different breed.
First of all, this is the Shaq-Man's third autobiography. The first, 1995's Shaq Attaq!, chronicled his rise to top of the basketball and entertainment worlds. His second, 2002's Shaq Talks Back, gave the haters a taste of their own medicine, as Shaq insisted how great he is on an every-page basis. And now, Shaq Uncut: My Story. Is it the final autobiography? Only time will tell.
Shaq Uncut: My Story chronicles the meat and potatoes of Shaq's life, from his humble beginnings as a normal kid in New Jersey (and by normal I mean he was a relentless bully who made the lives of his classmates pretty miserable) to his final game for the Boston Celtics in 2011. Shaq writes (with the help of his regular ghost-writer, TV's Jackie McMullen) about growing up poor, beating kids up, getting into basketball, becoming good at basketball, being very big, becoming the best at basketball, going to high school in San Antonio, going to college at LSU, entering the NBA, becoming a big-shot rapper, becoming a really talented actor, becoming the best police sheriff in the country, ridding the world of criminals with his policing skills, winning NBA titles with the help of Kobe Bryant, winning an NBA title with help from Dwyane Wade, and then getting a bad toe injury that limited his abilities and forced him to retire far earlier than he would have liked (at 39 years old).
Shaq is probably the most arrogant guy on the planet. His book details this in every paragraph. He constantly reminds the reader of his accomplishments. He doesn't just appreciate his opportunity to do the things he finds passion in, but he prefers to believe that he dominated every aspect of his life just as if it were the purple paint of the Staples Center in Los Angeles.
He considers himself to be a truly great rapper, reminding us numerous times of how many records he sold in the early 1990s. He honestly thinks Kazaam is a good movie, and he talks about Blue Chips like he was a natural actor with all the talent in the world. He talks about nabbing child pornographers as the leader of various Miami and Arizona police departments, and he considers himself to be the best father and family man this planet has ever seen. His charitable work rivals very few in the sports world, as Shaq explains how he is No. 1 in just about everything.
Shaquille O'Neal undoubtedly wouldn't have gotten anywhere near this pinnacle of extreme greatness in every aspect of everything if it weren't for his outrageous and unending arrogance, but let me tell you, it makes for a truly disgusting autobiography. Shortcomings to the wayside, the Shaq-Man epitomizes perfection (although he does talk about his mistakes, all of which came in his younger days). The bottom line is that O'Neal is insane, and his love for himself and everything that he accomplishes is gross.
But at the same time, you can't call the guy phony or fake. He wasn't tricking anyone during his careers (music, sports, acting, law enforcement). The big Shaq-Man was as ambitious as they come, and he got what he wanted not because it was handed to him (except for maybe with acting … and music … and law enforcement), but because he worked hard to be the best. For Shaq, anything less was not acceptable, and so he made it happen. And in his mind, he's the top dog.
So although his book is completely disgusting with the arrogance and self-love that is Shaquille O'Neal, it's a sincerely honest portrait of one of the greatest basketball players of all time. And it's fun. It is. I hated Shaq going into this book, and I hate Shaq coming out the other side. He talks trash about pretty much everyone he's ever met, while candy-coating certain people that he holds real respect for. He discusses it all, from Kobe, to Pat Riley (which is my favorite trash talk of the book), to Wade and LeBron, to Steve Nash, Penny Hardaway, Karl Malone, and pretty much everyone else in-between. It's interesting how almost all of the Shaq-Man's professional relationships have ended badly. Maybe instead of looking at how great he is, Mr. O'Neal should reflect on why most of his colleagues ended up hating him.
But in the end, the world of professional basketball, being the great entertainment that it is, with the players being so visible, it's always worth a read when one of the best puts out his third autobiography. And as a rule of thumb, you should always read books written by NBA players. This one is no different. Farewell Shaq-Man, as you ride into the sunset the eyes that watch you won't number quite as many, but knowing Shaq, he'll find a way to keep the eyes on him. He always does.