“If He Continues to Work Hard, He’ll Be Ok”: Shaquille O’Neal Gives His Stamp of Approval to 22 Year Old Son Who Went Against His Wishes to Join the NBA

Published 08/10/2022, 4:30 PM EDT
NEW YORK, NY – APRIL 14: Shaquille O’Neal attends the ESPN Gala: “30 For 30: This Magic Moment” Screening during the 2016 Tribeca Film Festival at SVA Theatre on April 14, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Mike Pont/WireImage)

Shaquille O’Neal attested to his eldest son, Shareef’s progress as a basketball player in a recent interview. ‘The Big Diesel’ ratified Shareef’s hard work to develop himself as a top-level athlete despite differences in opinion on the procedure. As it turns out, Shaquille O’Neal thinks the 22-year-old has a bright future ahead if keeps working hard.

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Shaq is set to visit the Middle East in October for the 2022 NBA Abu Dhabi Games, which would include two pre-season games between the Atlanta Hawks and the Milwaukee Bucks at the Etihad Arena on Yas Island. The Lakers legend was interviewed before his visit in October to comment on the event.

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Meanwhile, Shaquille O’Neal answered questions on other topics as well. As it turns out, the Lakers legend seemed pleased with Shareef O’Neal’s recent progress.

Shaquille O’Neal on his son’s progress

During the interview, Shaq addressed his son’s recent progress as a player. Shareef O’Neal recently signed a six-figure contract with G-League Ignite.

SANTA MONICA, CALIFORNIA: (L-R) Shareef O’Neal, Shaquille O’Neal, and Shaqir O’Neal attends 2019 NBA Awards at Barker Hangar in Santa Monica, California. (Photo by Leon Bennett/WireImage)

After a decent showing for the Lakers in the Summer League, the young prospect decided to hasten his progress by entering the NBA G-League. G-League Ignite has served as a noteworthy pipeline to the NBA supplying players like Jalen Green and Jonathan Kuminga, among others. In fact, the team has emerged in recent years as a hub of player development for the major leagues.

Meanwhile, Shaq shared his thoughts on Shareef’s strides towards the NBA. “He’s a better shooter, better runner, better body, but sometimes you need to be a little bit crazy to want this,” said the four-time NBA champion.

A lot of guys can play basketball but you got to have that strong individual love for the game. I think if he continues to work hard, he’ll be OK,” he added.

Shaq and Shareef’s differences

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Shareef O’Neal went undrafted in the 2022 NBA draft because of a nondescript college career. As a matter of fact, Shareef’s career at UCLA and LSU failed to take off because of health concerns. The four-star high school recruit was diagnosed with a heart condition in his freshman year at UCLA.

After surgery in 2018, O’Neal’s health suffered again at LSU due to foot and ankle injuries. Therefore, Shaq wanted him to stay in college and get his numbers up.

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However, Shareef didn’t see himself progressing much in college. As a result, he took the opportunity to play in the G-League despite his father’s wishes.

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Satagni Sikder

373 articles

Satagni Sikder is an NBA writer for EssentiallySports. He has a Master's degree in English from Jadavpur University, Kolkata, and has been following the NBA since 2017. Moreover, he supports the Dallas Mavericks, and unsurprisingly, Luka Doncic is his favorite player.

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