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Shaq Talks Back.

Shaq Talks Back by Shaquille O'Neal St. Martin's Press April 2001, $23.95, ISBN 0-312-27845-4

From his dominance on the basketball court to the big screen, from his music booming through stereo speakers to numerous multi-million dollar ad campaigns, Shaquille O'Neal has become one of the most recognizable sports figures in the world.

Shaq considers himself a street kid/Army brat. He was born in Newark, New Jersey, travelled extensively and ended up in Texas, where he played high school ball. His size and talent gained him the attention that set the stage for an outstanding college and pro careen The outspoken All-Star center for the Los Angeles Lakers has developed into one of the NBA's interesting personalities, on and off the court. He is a long time activist whose projects range from passing out hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of toys to kids at Christmas time to raising millions with billionaire Bill Gates to donate computers to inner city youth. He has also been a spokesperson for the NBA's role in the national literacy campaign--"Reading Is Fundamental," (RIF). This work with RIF may have been his inspiration for his children's books, Shaq and the Beanstalk and Other Very Tall Tales. But now he's got a book for his adult fans.

"When you're 7'1" and weigh 330something, you're supposed to be big and strong. You are supposed to take whatever people dish out and keep your emotions to yourself. But I needed to let it out. I needed to show people how I was feeling." This is why he cried, after the Los Angeles Lakers, the team he led to the finals, won the title last season. O'Neal speaks of this and other intimate moments in his new autobiography. The book is thought by many in the NBA to be one of the most in-depth and controversial sports autobiographies of all time. O'Neal's speaks candidly about his past, his career, his rivalries against other athletes, and the lifestyle of the NBA players, ending with a behind-the-scenes look into the awesome championship run of the Los Angeles Lakers.

The book is a memoir of O'Neal's accounts of a troubled past, from the breakup of his parents to his victorious rise to the National Basketball Association's Most Valuable Player. He addresses hot topics concerning today's young black professional athlete--money, sex, drugs. The book begins with fond childhood memories, including a complete synopsis of the public saga surrounding his biological father. He then speaks about his early years playing ball and trying to develop the talent to match his size. After a phenomenal college career at Louisiana State University, O'Neal skyrocketed into the NBA where he immediately became an impact player. He writes in depth of the highs and lows of being a high-priced professional athlete, the challenges of being a father himself, what it takes to be a shrewd businessman, and the work and dedication it took to finally win an NBA championship. And, of course, it wouldn't be Shaq if there weren't trash talking and colorful banter!

A must read for any NBA fan, filled with humorous anecdotes and even better analysis of some of the NBA's most recent history. The book is Shaquille O'Neal's coming of age as the next great big man in basketball and his plea to be considered as such.

The Word on Shaq

"From this day on, I would like to be known as the Big Aristotle. Because it was Aristotle who said, `Excellence is not a singular act, but a habit. You are what you repeatedly do."

--Shaquille O'Neal, after winning the NBA 1999-2000 MVP Award.

"People ask me all the time who I think will be the next superstar, now that Michael has retired. To me the next great player is Shaquille O'Neal. I truly believe his time is going to come. I don't know him at all, but I've got him marked down for four or five championships. He's sort of like Michael was early on. He hasn't figured it out yet, but he will."

--Larry Bird, from his book Bird Watching

"It's about time they give you respect. Whatever they said you couldn't do, you've done."

--Julius "Dr. J" Erving, after O'Neal won the 2001 NBA Championship MVP honors.

Roger L. Waiters is a writer and aspiring filmmaker based in the Bronx, New York. Roger has written several reviews for BIBR, and contributed to other national magazines such as Essence. He is currently completing a screenplay and working as the production manager for the film The Prodigal Son. He will be making his directorial debut in fall 2001 with the film Conversation on the D Train. Waiters begins a new role as BIBR associate editor overseeing the Arena section and covering sports books. This issue he looks at Shaquille O'Neal's new autobiography on page 62.
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Copyright 2001, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:Review
Author:Waiters, Roger
Publication:Black Issues Book Review
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Jul 1, 2001
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