“Kareem (Abdul-Jabbar) was never around,” Shaquille O’Neal complains in “Shaq Uncut: My Story,” his forthcoming autobiography co-written by former Boston Globe scribe Jackie MacMullan. “And, whenever I did see him, he usually ignored me. The disappointing thing to me was, being in LA all those years and trying to fill those shoes, I would have liked to have a conversation with him.” Screw conversations, Shaq, from here on in you’re limited to reading Kareem’s Facebook status updates like the rest of us.
I went down to LSU and worked with Shaq on the fundamentals of the Skyhook as a favor to Coach Dale Brown. I spent time with Shaq in the gym and gave him some drills he could use to develop the hook shot. But when I followed up with his Coach, Dale Brown, I was told that Shaq’s father told his son he didn’t need to develop a hook shot and all he needed to do was smash everything into the basket. Shaq’s father felt that he was so overpowering physically that he should just dunk everything and not worry about developing a finesse shot like the Skyhook.
As a pro I never approached Shaq because I thought he was pretty successful dunking everything and I assumed he didn’t want my help. I was never on the coaching staff of any of his teams. I was never unfriendly to him and I would talk to him, but Shaq was enjoying his success, doing it his way. He never asked me of what I thought he should be doing and he never tried to reach out to me for any instruction and I respected that decision.
If I had any idea that Shaq wanted to learn from me, I would have been happy to have worked with him, but all indications that I had received was that he felt he was doing fine and he didn’t need or want my help. I am totally surprised by Shaq’s comments as I tried to respect his privacy and never got any indication from anyone that he wanted or needed any input from me with regard to how he played the game. Shaq had a great career, and I like everyone else, respect what he has achieved.