Shaquille O’Neal Once Revealed How Arrogance Got the Best of Him: “When I Used to Walk One Side… the Whole School Would Walk on the Other Side”

Published 09/07/2022, 8:30 PM EDT
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – OCTOBER 09: Shaquille O’Neal attends the WBC heavyweight title fight between Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder at T-Mobile Arena on October 09, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

The NBA has been a major platform for some of the most insane athletes. However, when Shaquille O’Neal entered the league, he became synonymous with dominance. From the get-go, Big Diesel asserted himself as arguably one of the best centers of all time. Shaq’s basketball journey is one of a kind.

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Growing up with a military father, the Los Angeles Lakers icon was constantly on the move. Shifting to military bases, he picked up his love for basketball. As a child, Shaq was already a giant standing at 6’4″ at the age of just 10. He quickly burst on the scene as the best player in the country carrying his high school side to the state championship.

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However, as fame came, Shaquille O’Neal fell deep in. While talking to the iconic TV show host, Conon O’Brien, the four-time champion spoke about a life-changing lesson his entire school helped him learn.

Shaquille O’Neal was arrogant in high school

An alumnus of Robert. G Cole High School, Shaq made his first steps as a future Hall of Famer. The Big Diesel was practically unbeatable in his two years. In 1989, he helped his high school go undefeated. Likewise, they captured the state championship led by a young budding Shaq. However, while he burst into fame, arrogance followed along. And it took the entire high school at the time to teach Shaq to be humble in success.

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Speaking to Conan, the Los Angeles Lakers great said: “From 10 to 16 when I really started playing basketball, nobody knew who I was. At 16, I got my first article that said ‘Cole’s O’Neal best in the United States’. So I went from a nobody to being the best player. I went through my little arrogant phase.”

Shaq continued, “When I thought I was better than, I would walk on one side of the hall, the whole school would move to the other side of the hall. I go to the lunch room and sit down, everybody would leave the cafeteria, I go to practice, I go shoot at one end all the other guys would shoot at the other end. So I was like this is funny. Then my guy was like, ‘Hey man, you didn’t get here by yourself'”. 

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Shaq dunkes the ball. Andrew D. Bernstein/Getty Images

This one lesson transformed Shaq into the gentle giant the world knows and respects today. Despite cementing himself among the legends, O’Neal never lost respect for the ones who came before. Shaquille O’Neal is now dedicated to helping people and bringing a smile to the face of kids. The once arrogant star became the face of the league with the Orlando Magic.

After high school, Shaq would become even better in his two years at LSU. Unsurprisingly, he entered the NBA as the number one pick. Thanks to his high school teammates, the Big Diesel learned his lesson early and carried that with him throughout his career.

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WATCH THIS STORY: Shaq’s height compared to Rob Riggie

Do you think Shaq would be different if he didn’t get over his arrogant phase? Let us know your views in the comment below.

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Anuj Talwalkar

1557 articles

Anuj Talwalkar is an NBA writer at EssentiallySports. He is a student studying at NM College in Mumbai, aspiring to pursue sports management to follow his love for sports. Anuj started following the NBA last year, and he loves to combine his passion for writing with his understanding of basketball.

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