Shareef says father Shaq is now joining after a clash with the NBA draft

Shareef O'Neal nba draft
October 7, 2022

When he told reporters that he and his father, basketball legend Shaquille O’Neal were “surprised” by his decision to leave college and enter the NBA draft, Shareef O’Neal said he knew he would commit a crime and an error.

The young O’Neal, who had just signed an NBA Summer League contract with the Los Angeles Lakers in July, called his father and told him his comments during his first NBA press conference. That moment started a conversation that strengthened their bond.

O’Neal Jr. said Wednesday that his father now supports the decision.

“Once we make a deal, he’s on my side,” Sharif O’Neal, now with G League Ignite, said in Las Vegas. “He was like, ‘You’re my son. I am going to support you no matter what.’ He’s helped me a lot over the past few months. I think it is brought us closer than ever. I feel like The whole family has become closer.”

Shaquille O’Neal, an undrafted 6-foot-10 power forward, will debut in Thursday’s game against Ignite against Victor Wimbanyama, the projected No. 1 pick in the 2023 NBA draft. One overall pick) and the Mets 92 (French). Team of Professionals, 3 p.m. ET at the Dollar Loan Center.

O’Neal averaged 2.6 points in 37 games between UCLA and LSU. In 2020, two years after discovering a life-threatening heart condition nearly ended his career, he transferred to Louisiana State University, his father’s alma mater.

“You know, I think about it daily,” he said. “I’m so lucky to be in this position because, you know, there are a few months where I think basketball has been taken away, and I’m going to have to look for something else.”

O’Neal said he was told by many people last summer to stay at LSU and not enter the NBA draft. However, he said he had to make his own choices, even if it meant not having immediate support from his father, the NBA Hall of Famer and the No. 1 overall pick in the 1992 NBA draft.

He also said that leaving school and entering the draft had something to do with the number of distractions he endured. While at LSU, he suffered multiple stress fractures in his foot.

“I can’t sit still a little bit,” he said. “Not playing basketball is a big problem for me. I’ve had heart surgery for a year and a half. I’ve been hurting all the time, and I don’t know what’s going to happen, so I just bet myself, and I thought, ‘I want to be a pro. Everyone told me it was a bad idea: coaches, family. I didn’t let it discourage me. I moved on.”

O’Neal understood his son’s point of view as he expressed his reasons for the decision, and he then began to help him in his journey, Sharif O’Neal said. After his summer league contract with the Lakers expired, he wasn’t sure about his career options. The Lakers didn’t give him another chance.

But his father has ties to former NBA guard, Ignite coach Jason Hart, former NBA star, and current G-League president Shareef Abdur-Rahim. Shareef O’Neal is named after Abdur-Rahim.

Those ties helped a young O’Neal find a spot at Ignite, where Scoot Henderson (the projected No. two overall picks in this summer’s NBA draft), other young stars, and veterans are shooting again in the league. O’Neal said he was grateful for his father’s support and, more importantly, their relationship.

“I feel like (my father and I) had a meeting. It was the first time we disagreed, and it brought us closer than ever,” he said. “That’s my best friend and my father. I love him.”

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