SBD/February 15, 2013/People and Pop Culture

Shaq Discusses His Adjustment To TV Career, Thoughts On Possible Team Ownership

O'Neal's "perfect world" would include ownership of an NBA team in his native N.J.
TNT NBA analyst SHAQUILLE O'NEAL called it quits on his playing career following the '10-11 season and headed straight for the broadcast booth. The future Basketball HOFer joined ERNIE JOHNSON, KENNY SMITH and CHARLES BARKLEY on TNT's “Inside the NBA” studio show. Ahead of NBA All-Star weekend in Houston, O’Neal took some time to chat about enjoying his new career, marketing strategies and NBA ownership aspirations down the road.

Q: How have you enjoyed life in the post-NBA playing career?
O’Neal: I’m loving it. Just been working as hard as I can, having fun and trying to stay out of trouble. Working here with TNT has been a lot of fun -- I really enjoy it. Getting to work with Kenny and Chuck is great.

Q: Is broadcasting something you thought you would get into once your playing career was over?
O’Neal: Yes and no, I guess. I never thought I would do it but when the opportunity came up, I jumped on it. I thought it would be a good chance to come on, share my experiences and talk about what I know about the game.

Q: Is there a broadcaster or analyst you look to as a model?
O’Neal: Not really. At this point I’m kind of an amateur, but I’m getting better. Right now I’m still trying to figure out kind of what my style is, and I know I have to get better. But when it’s all said and done, I know I will be one of the best. I’m not messing around.

Q: Is it hard to get a word in being on the same set with Barkley?
O’Neal: No, not really. The great thing about our show is that we have a lot of good entertainment in the show, too. So we have a good time and talk about the game. I think if it was more of a serious show then I probably wouldn’t fit. But they do a lot of stuff that makes people laugh; that’s a good fit for me. The show really allows me to be myself. TNT is a very beautiful company, they let us do what we want to do and show love for all the ex-players. It’s fun.

Q: How was the response to your commercial for the '12 Buick LaCrosse?
O’Neal: We got a really good response. It was written by me and I added my own little touch at the end. I think people like when I do spots. I like to do mostly humorous spots because I want it to be something that people are going to remember. If you can remember something humorous in a spot, like me pointing my finger in the Buick commercial, then I think I’ve done my job. Rather than just pushing a product in someone’s face, I want them to enjoy it.

Q: What’s been your marketing strategy since your career ended to keep your brand going strong?
O’Neal: My strategy has always been about 60% humor. I think what’s keeping me alive is that image is reality. It’s about realness.

Q: You have mentioned in the past that you might be interested in ownership down the road. Is that still on your radar? If so, what type of ownership group are you looking at?
O’Neal: Yes, we’re looking at some teams. In a perfect world, we want to bring a team back to New Jersey. That’s our first option. We’re not really locked into that, but that would be the first option in a perfect world. If that doesn’t work out, we’ll move on to something else. I’m in a group -- a big group.
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