5 best performances from Shaquille O’Neal

Shaquille O’Neal announced this week that he’s retiring from the
NBA after 19 seasons. He shared the news on Twitter, of course,
where he has nearly 4 million followers – which just goes to show
what an engaging, larger-than-life presence he’s been off the
court.

That big personality has extended to movies, music and more, and
made Shaq a one-name pop culture icon. You can analyze the 15-time
All-Star center’s prodigious stats all you want and measure him
against the greats of the game, but here’s a look at the big man’s
five best performances outside of basketball (although pretending
to get along with former Los Angeles Lakers teammate Kobe Bryant
deserves an honorable mention):

– Shaq the rapper: Plenty of athletes have tried to cross over
into the music business with varying levels of success. But Shaq
actually built a rap career in the ’90s, having recorded with the
likes of the late Notorious B.I.G., Jay-Z, Snoop Dogg and Warren G.
He’s recorded so many albums, he’s even got a greatest-hits
collection. He’s used his rhymes to talk obligatory amounts of
trash, as he did in an infamous freestyle in which he, um, asked
Bryant a delicious question. But he’s also opened up through his
music: His 1994 single “Biological Didn’t Bother,” which became a
minor hit, was about his estrangement from his father, and it sang
the praises of the stepfather who raised him.

– “Shaq vs.” (2009-2010): The short-lived ABC reality series
provided Shaq with a great opportunity to show off one of his more
endearing traits: his ability to goof off and toy with his own
image. He’d take on various athletes and celebrities in their own
arenas, usually with amusing results. In the Justin Bieber episode,
for example, he challenged the pop star to a dance-off and a
bowling competition. He swam against Michael Phelps, boxed Oscar De
La Hoya, tried to out-cook Rachael Ray and crammed more hot dogs in
his mouth than eating champion Joey Chestnut (albeit with help from
other people).

– “Blue Chips” (1994): For his film debut, the former LSU star
plays a character named Neon Bodeaux, a monster from the Louisiana
swamps. The younger (and much leaner) Shaq and his then-real-life
Orlando Magic teammate Anfernee “Penny” Hardaway co-star as a
couple of the prospects coveted by a hotheaded college coach (Nick
Nolte). Shaq’s first appearance on screen in director William
Friedkin’s film is epic, a thunderous mix of slo-mo and dramatic
lighting. “He ain’t just big, Pete, he’s quick,” a friend tells
Nolte’s character. “He’s totally raw – he’s never been coached.” He
quite simply dominates, just as he would in real life for much of
his lengthy career.

– “Kazaam” (1996): Shaq’s next attempt at big-screen
superstardom wasn’t quite so successful. This supposedly
family-friendly comedy, in which Shaq stars as a rapping genie who
bursts out of a boom box, currently has a whopping 4 percent
positive reviews on Rotten Tomatoes. That’s right – it received one
positive review. As directed by former “Starsky and Hutch” star
Paul Michael Glaser, “Kazaam” finds Shaq protecting a young boy
from neighborhood toughs and promising, in song, to “green egg and
ham it.” So bad, it’s good. Almost.

– Shaq the statue: Shaq became a fan favorite no matter what
city he was playing in, but he wowed them in Boston – where he made
his last stop, with the Celtics – by doing absolutely nothing. Last
fall, he tweeted that he’d be heading to Harvard Square to pose as
a statue. And that’s exactly what he did: He sat motionless for an
hour, which drew a swarm of onlookers. People elbowed their way
through the crowd to get close and several posed for pictures with
him. One woman even offered him free burgers but he wouldn’t budge.
Why? Why not. But for someone who’s known for his charisma, he was
extremely convincing.

Think of any other examples? Share them with AP Movie Critic
Christy Lemire through Twitter:
http://twitter.com/christylemire.