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Note that we have posters of Shaquille O' Neal and the rest of the Los Angeles Lakers on the Lakers Poster Page. The page even features posters of some of the celebrities like Jack Nicholson that have attended Laker games over the years.

  • Hardcover - 289 pages
  • ISBN 0-312-27845-4
  • ISBN 0312278454
  • Published by St. Martin's Press
  • Text Copyright 2001 by Mine-O-Mine
    From the Inside Cover:

    It's Rare to discover a candid sports autobiography - even rarer 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 the 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.

  • It was refreshing to read Shaq Talks Back because we know the words were his. Often times the media distorts what he says so it was a nice change of pace to have him lay everything out in a book in his own words. Everything was kept in perspective and ideas were not taken out of context.

    The book starts with what has to be one of the greatest moments in Shaq's life. We read about the Los Angeles Lakers beating the Indiana Pacers in game 6 of the NBA finals on June 19, 2000. In his own words he describes it as, "the night I had been waiting for since I first picked up a ball as a five -year-old in Newark, New Jersey." [1] He quickly talks about the journey to the championship and how things had changed since 1992 when he first came into the league. He talks about the tears that were shed that night, "I didn't cry because I was happy, I cried because I was mad. It wasn't a release. It was the wildness of my father trying to get out, but the calmness of my mother taking over." He states that part of the joy of the moment was proving the critics wrong. [2-3]

    Chapter Two opens by talking about the earliest periods of Shaq's life. He was born in Newark, New Jersey, on March 6, 1972 to Lucille Harrison who he describes as, "the most loyal and loving and sacrificing mother anyone could ever know." [5] I was surprised to read that Shaq was only 7 pounds, 11 ounces when he was born. [10] Towards the end of Chapter Two, Shaq talks about quickly becoming the man in college at LSU after his freshman year. This was partly because Stanley Roberts flunked out and Chris Jackson left for the NBA. [35]

    Chapter Three shows that like everything else in Shaq's life, his rookie contract was big. At that time in 1992 it was the largest rookie contract in the history of sports. It was worth 41 million dollars over 7 years. [39] 1995 was a big year for Shaq. His team was able to defeat Michal Jordan and the Bulls to advance to the NBA Finals. He talks about the heartbreak of getting swept in the Finals by the Houston Rockets and Hakeem Olajuwon. [42]

    The decision to leave the Orlando Magic in the summer of 1996 turned out to be one of the biggest decisions of Shaq's life. He said Orlando initially offered him 69 million over 7 years. Jerry West of the Lakers was cutting players to make room for Shaq and he was discussing figures in the 98 million dollar range. Apparently the Magic decided to up their offer to 99 million when they got wind of what Jerry West was doing. Finally, Jerry West sent George Lynch to Vancouver in a move that brought the offer up to 121 million. [48] Chapter Three closes with one of Shaq's last memories from the Orlando Magic. He met a high school player whose favorite pro was Penny Hardaway. Penny didn't talk to the kid as long as he could have so Shaq went up to the young high schooler and talked to him for a few minutes. Obviously the young high school player was Kobe Bryant. The chapter closes by Shaq saying, "I don't know why, but I knew I was going to see that young cat again. I just knew." [55]

    The Lakers never seemed to live up to their potential during the first few years they had Shaq on the team. One interesting example was the interaction Del Harris and Elden Campbell. One game agains the Clippers Shaq remebers the two going back and forth because the 6'11" Elden was having a hard time guarding the 6'7" Maurice Taylor. [59] One thing Jerry West told Shaq to help him get through hard times was that he went to the finals 9 times before he was able to win. [73]

    Everything changed for the Lakers when Phil Jackson came on board. He told the young players that Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen did not have egos when they won 6 championships. Jackson reasoned that since he did not have ego issues with Michael and Scottie then he would not tolerate issues from the young Laker players. [82] In June of 2000 Shaq was able to win his first championship with Phil Jackson, Kobe Bryant and the rest of the Los Angeles Lakers.

    The end of the book was touching when Shaq talked so fondly about the man who raised him(Sarge). Shaq gave his first championship ring to his dad, Philip Harrison. "I might make myself a copy of my championship ring, but I will not keep the original. It belongs to Philip. The next one I'll probably keep. But the first one is for him." [259]

    Being a Los Angeles Lakers fan and season ticket holder, I loved the book. Even if you're not a Laker fan I would recommend reading this book if you want to see another side of Shaq.

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