Interview: Shaquille O'Neal Talks the Chris Paul Trade, David Stern and Buying an NBA Team

Shaq says loyalty is dead.

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The NBA has been a mess lately. Blockbuster trades are getting rejected, owners are writing the commissioner crazy emails, players are getting emotional and skipping practice, and uber-talented players are retiring. What happened to the love of the game? Where's the fun and happiness? The dreary atmosphere might be in part due to the absence of one of the NBA's best personalities: Shaquille O'Neal
After retiring last season, Shaq has been chillin' down in Orlando. He took some time out of his Friday to talk to Complex, his favorite airport magazine, to discuss the killed Chris Paul trade, David Stern, the lack of loyalty in sports, and his plans to buy an NBA team for New Jersey. It's about time we had a little light in the recently dark days of the NBA. 

Interview by Tony Markovich (@T_Marko)

What's your take on the Chris Paul non-trade? 

Well, Dan Gilbert made a good point. He thought this is what the lockout was about. Big time guys leaving the small market and going to the big market, so everybody makes a good point. I can tell you there is no loyalty in sports. I can tell you that. Because If you take Pau Gasol out of the Lakers’ championship, the last two championships they got, they don’t get them. To give him up so easily, it tells me there is no loyalty in sports.

Even with Albert Pujols leaving St. Louis, it seems like owners don’t have love for their players, and players don’t have love for their fans.

Yeah, but Albert Pujols just won them the title. They don’t want to offer him that much money because he’s going to be older. They don’t want to pay him that when he gets older. “Thanks a lot! I just won you the title, and that’s what you think about me?” So, he left and went other places. We’ll see how much he’s needed next year in St. Louis. We’ll see.

You’ve been on quite a few teams. Did you ever have dilemmas like that?

Yeah, that’s why I got traded a lot. People forget.

How’d that make you feel?

It didn’t matter to me, because I understand business. I’m a businessman. I have a bachelor's in business, so I know what it’s all about. Know what I mean? I don’t take anything personal. If you want to go in a different direction then okay, cool.

What are your thoughts on the owners lobbying David Stern to kill the trade?

That’s what it’s looking like now, but David Stern is a smart man. He’s going to do what he wants to do. There aren’t too many people that can persuade him. I can’t comment on why he did what he did, but that’s the way it seems.

You were in the league when the last lockout happened. Compare how these two situations have gone.

This time the owners are more stern about what they wanted to do. And they got it now. They [said], "Some teams are losing money, we’re going to do this, we’re going to do that, blah, blah, blah." So they got what they wanted: 49-51.

What do you think of the final Collective Bargaining Agreement?

I don’t think anything of it. I’m not playing. It doesn’t affect me. I’m good. I’m talking to Com-plex Mag-a-zine. I’m good.

How have you enjoyed your time away from the game?

Taking it easy and just staying out of trouble. Relaxing.

What do you do to relax?

I just sit around, take it easy, take care of business, do a lot stuff. I take care of a lot of business stuff. I’m not really a big mover. I just sit around the crib, baby.

Where are you living these days?

Orlando, Forida. I was drafted here and I bought a house here with 70,000 square feet.

If you could have one more addition to your house, what would it be?

I would put an indoor gun range and an indoor go-kart track.

Have you ridden go-karts lately?

Yeah, me and my girlfriend went go-kart riding last night.

Where’d you find ones big enough?

I didn’t. I just forced myself onto a little one.

Did you win?

If you were to describe yourself as one type of NASCAR driver, who would you be?

I would be Jimmy Johnson. I always win. Everybody would be like, “Damn, can anybody beat this guy?”

What’s next? What should we expect to see moving forward?

I’m going to be having a good time on TNT and just hopefully buy an NBA team team and bring it to New Jersey. To Newark.

Why do you want to move one there? 

That’s where I'm from, born and raised. We just built a new arena there, and the Nets are leaving, so we want to keep a team there in Jersey. 

How would you go about that? Are there any pieces you have in place for that?

Right now we’re looking around to see who wants to sell. We’re getting close.

Any leads on that?

No, not yet. We’re still meetin’ right now.

If you were to get your team, are there any players you would want to go after? 

First you gotta have the egg before you talk about the chicken, you know. I don’t want to say what I’d do. I want to wait until I get the team, then once I have the team, I’ll start making my moves.
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