Cover image for Shaq talks back
Shaq talks back
O'Neal, Shaquille.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : St. Martin's Press, [2001]

Physical Description:
viii, 259 pages : color illustrations ; 25 cm
Personal Subject:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
GV884.O54 A3 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks
GV884.O54 A3 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Biography
GV884.O54 A3 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
GV884.O54 A3 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Biography
GV884.O54 A3 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
GV884.O54 A3 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf

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It's rare to discover a candid sports autobiography-- even rare when the author is one of the most recognizable athletes in the world. But in Shaq Talks Back , Shaquille O'Neal for the first time talks frankly about his childhood, his life, his rivalries, and his career, culminating in a dramatic, behind-the-scenes account of the Los Angeles Lakers' drive to the NBA Championship.

At seven feet one inch tall and 330 pounds, Shaq has always faced outsized expectations, even as a child when he towered over other kids. Shaq Talks Back is the story of how potential became reality-- how someone expected to be a champion finally learned to become one. Beginning with his memory of crying on the court after the Lakers defeated the Indiana Pacers, Shaq takes us back to his younger days in Newark and Jersey City, New Jersey, then to Georgia and finally to Germany, where he began to harness some of his height and strength.

From there, he recounts the remarkable progress of his basketball career, changing from a big but inexperienced teenager to a dominant college and professional player. Shaq talks about:

* Playing at Louisiana State University for the unpredictable coach Dale Brown
* Signing the biggest rookie contract ever with the Orlando Magic-- and going to the NBA Finals for the first time
* What happened next: dissention, disappointment, and his decision to leave for Los Angeles
* The dysfunctional Lakers who were never able to win the big games
* Dealing with egos as he finds the right chemistry with Kobe Bryant, Phil Jackson, and new additions to the team
* Rivalries with Alonzo Mourning, Patrick Ewing, Hakeem Olajuwon, David Robinson, and others
* The trouble with free throws...
* "Bling-bling" and women: the larger-than-life world of NBA players off the court
* Inside the Lakers' comeback from the brink against Portland and the drive to the NBA championship

Funny, insightful, opinionated, and unexpectedly moving, Shaq Talks Back is the true voice of the NBA's best player.

Author Notes

Shaquille O'Neal nicknamed "Shaq", is a former American professional basketball player. He is also a rapper, actor, and author. Shaq played college basketball for LSU. He was drafted first overall pick by the NBA in 1992 and has played for the Orlando Magic, 1992-1996; Los Angeles Lakers, where he won 3 consecutive championships, 1996-2004; Miami Heat, where he won his 4th NBA championship, 2004-2008; Phoenix Suns (2008-2009); Cleveland Cavaliers (2009-2010); and Boston Celtics (2010-2011).

O'Neal is the co-author, with Jackie MacMullan, of Shaq Uncut: My Story.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Shaquille O'Neal, all seven-feet-something, 330 pounds of him, is the dominant player in the NBA today, the man in the middle on the world-champion Los Angeles Lakers. His words draw a crowd because he's a marquee star, but the question, as it always is with sports autobiographies, is whether he has anything to say. The answer is not much. The story of his loving but sometimes harshly disciplined childhood with his mom and military stepfather does provide an explanation as to why, despite a few on-court controversies, Shaq has managed to handle his fame with dignity and humor. Both of those qualities are present here as he recounts his college years, his entry into the NBA after his sophomore season, and the early years in Orlando that included a promising a trip to the NBA finals but ended with acrimony. Now that he's 30 and owns a championship ring, he feels free to talk about fellow players, coaches, and media. A petulant side emerges here (the talking-back part); clearly, Shaq holds a grudge, even against Lenny Wilkens (the all-time winningest NBA coach) who only played Shaq for 43 seconds in the Olympic gold medal game. He's also hard on television commentator Pete Vescey ("That crazy cat will write anything"). In the end, NBA fans, who form the built-in audience for this book, will find it more substantive than they might have expected but without any significant revelations. On balance: a nice enough, very rich young man tells his story with as much panache as he can muster. --Wes Lukowsky

Publisher's Weekly Review

Shaq's new book (after Shaq and the Beanstalk) is entertaining, controversial and funny, like its author. He recounts his life story, from his childhood in Newark through winning the 2000 NBA Championship. Shaq's prose is uneven and repetitive in patches, but he writes in an authentic and likable voice throughout. Unlike other sports autobiographies, in which a co-writer essentially invents an athlete's "writing style," Shaq's words are his own fans will recognize his distinctive, opinionated voice. The text is broken up by interludes written by important people in Shaq's life (from his mother to his personal cook). Those passages provide a change of tone and lend perspective to Shaq's story. He speaks frankly about his current and former teammates and coaches, as well as the state of the NBA and of the world in general. Some of the statements in this book could get him in trouble with his NBA colleagues, but Shaq's honesty is part of what makes him such fun to read. Though Shaq devotes a lot of the book to his life off the court (his movies, rap albums, celebrity life), there's enough basketball here to satisfy hardcore hoops junkies (fans will be especially intrigued by his analysis of last season's championship run). (Apr.) Forecast: Shaq's appealing personality, controversial statements and celebrity should endear this candid, bold book to basketball fans. It would probably do well even without much promotion, but with a national author tour and print advertising, big sales seem virtually assured. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Readers who feel the NBA today is rife with self-centered athletes will be pleasantly surprised to read this book by a young man who seems team oriented and, at most times, quite level-headed. His recent difficulties with Kobe Bryant, the other star of the Los Angeles Lakers, notwithstanding, O'Neal comes across as the leader of the defending NBA champions. In many ways, O'Neal has become as disciplined as his stepfather, a retired U.S. Army NCO, but there are still hints that there is a 15-year-old trying to break out of a 30-year-old's body. What is particularly revealing here is his discussion of his career in the league, focusing on the Lakers championship under Coach Phil Jackson. O'Neal is quite candid about his relationships with his coaches, particularly several he did not feel provided sufficient leadership. Also of interest is his candid appraisal of NBA players, past and present. O'Neal is a complex man who just recently earned a college degree from Louisiana State University and tells the story of his life in an entertaining fashion. The language is a bit rough, but the book is still recommended for public libraries. William Scheeren, Hempfield Area H.S. Lib., Greensburg, PA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.