DALLAS — NBA future Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal was once the most feared man in the NBA due to his massive size and array of skills.
These days he’s content watching NBA games with Charles Barkley, Kenny Smith and Ernie Johnson for TNT or attending high school basketball games to watch his 6’8″, 15-year-old son Shareef O’Neal do his thing.
Unlike Shaq, Shareef is more of a versatile swingman who can handle the ball and shoot from the outside while being a dominant force on the defensive end of the floor. As a result of the youngster’s versatile skill set, Shaq wants Shareef to pattern his game after a particular NBA superstar with the thought that watching him will help Shareef continue to grow his maturing game.
“I kind of had to do something that I didn’t want to do a couple of weeks ago that hurt my heart. But I told my son he should watch this guy (Anthony Davis) and follow him,” a smiling O’Neal said. “I wanted to say, ‘don’t watch nobody, watch your daddy.’ But I had to say you need to watch him because they have the same build; tall, fast, shoot, jump, really, really thin, not a lot of muscles. So I had to tell him you need to watch this guy because we’re a product of our environment and you got to watch your favorite player, take what they got and add your own little sauce to it to become the type of player you want to become.”
Shareef has already received scholarship offers from USC and UCLA, and he’s ranked as one of the top players in the nation for the class of 2018. Despite being overly thrilled with his son’s early success, Shaq is keeping things in good perspective while silently hoping Shareef gains some of the brutal physicality he possessed when running up and down NBA courts throughout his 19-year NBA career.
“I tell him all the time just go out and have fun,” a very proud Shaq said. “I went to watch him the other day and he had the easiest 27 and 14 game I’ve seen. It was crazy, but he plays like the big guys play today. He shoots a lot of jumpers and he makes a lot of them so I don’t really get on him. But me personally I would like to see him get inside and throw some ‘bows and knock out some teeth.”