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.