It’s true ⏤ Shaq has been lying to us. Acting, even (or, Shaqtin’).

Former NBA basketball player, actor, occasional rapper, salesman extraordinaire, instigator, and now studio personality Shaquille O’Neal looms large in all things he does and doesn’t mind speaking his mind, or saying things just for the sake of saying them to see what happens.

The big man is known to tell some tall tales.

He makes an effort (sometimes too much effort) to make sure you notice him, are aware of him, and pay attention to him. And it’s pretty hard to miss him to begin with, being that he stands tall at (checks notes)…

Wait, how tall is Shaq?

After claiming that he was 7 feet and 1 inch tall for his entire career and then some, O’Neal, after years and years of speculation, finally came clean and admitted that he’s shorter than you think. Shaq is not, in fact, seven-foot-one. He’s not even seven feet tall. According to the big man himself, he is only (only?) 6 feet, 11 inches tall.

On his own podcast, The Big Podcast with Shaq, he told the “truth.” “I’m not 7’1″. I’m 6’11”. I just played like I was 7’1″. And 7′ 1″ just sounded, you know, just so, you know.”

Still listed at seven feet and one inch on the NBA’s official website, it’s hard to say how tall Shaq really is, especially since humans tend to lose a little bit of height as they age. The now 50-year-old O’Neal remains in the limelight with his commentary, opinions, and generally by trying to say things that will have people debating him and what he has to say.

Other than being one of the mainstays on TNT’s award-winning Inside the NBA, what else do we really know about Shaq? For one, he is big, regardless of his exact height. And he’s made sure to let the world know how big he is (in more ways than we care to know…). Among the many, many nicknames he has bestowed on himself, almost all of them start with “big”: The Big Aristotle, The Big Cactus, The Big Diesel, The Big Shamrock, The Big Baryshnikov, The Big Sidekick, and there’s most definitely more floating around out there.

How big is Shaq, exactly?

During his playing days, though he was listed at 325 pounds, by the eye test he definitely weighed more than that at times. Some reports put Shaq’s weight between 330 and 350, and Yahoo! reported that he was north of 400 pounds during the COVID-19 pandemic. In December of 2021, Men’s Health did a feature on O’Neal in which he claimed to want to get into the best shape of his life.

O’Neal was notorious for playing his way into shape during an NBA season, often showing up to the start of a season out of shape and working through the year to be in shape by the time the playoffs started (one of the many things he and the late Kobe Bryant butted heads on). In the pretty solid interview and story by Jewel Wicker, she and Shaq gave us this gem:

“Speaking of energy, Shaq’s been burning serious calories lately in his home gym. During the pandemic, his weight crept up to around 415 pounds. (His playing weight was 325.) He typically trains four days a week now for about an hour, blasting through 20 minutes of cardio and banging out 40 minutes of strength work. He wants to slim down to 350 pounds and be ripped enough to ‘go topless’ and post an Instagram thirst trap for his 50th birthday in March. His fitness goal, he elaborates, is to make sure his stomach doesn’t hang over his belt. He doesn’t want to develop the dreaded “OTBB,” or ‘over-the-belt Barkley,’ as he puts it.”

The latter, of course, is a reference to his friend and Inside the NBA colleague Charles Barkley. The two regularly riff with each other on many topics, including their weight. It’s been reported that O’Neal wears a size 22 shoe and oftentimes struggled with finding a pair of shoes that fit him when he was young and still growing, and growing, and growing. The big man has a big heart, too, as evidenced by multiple charitable endeavors and trying to help others, including buying shoes for a current teenager facing the same problems he used to: finding and affording footwear that fits.

Looming large

Ever since he retired in 2011, Shaq hasn’t really gone anywhere. Starting that same year, he joined the Inside the NBA crew, joining Barkley, Kenny Smith, and Ernie Johnson in what’s hailed as the most popular and best NBA studio show out there. Despite what you think of his opinions and antics on the show, it’s clear that he’s a draw, as TNT quickly expanded and has continued to expand Shaq’s already long reach.

His own segment has its own show of sorts now, Shaqtin’ a Fool, as well as the podcast that has its home on TNT. Before that, we saw Shaq as an actor (or is it Shaqtor?) in such memorable films as Kazaam. He was pretty good in Blue Chips, but he was basically playing a version of himself ⏤ a basketball player heavily recruited and highly regarded by college programs. He also starred in the forgettable movie Steel. He tried his hand at television, too, with Shaq’s Big Challenge in 2007 and Shaq Vs. from 2009 to 2010.

Oh, and he tried to make it big in the music business as well, releasing five studio albums to date. To be fair, his first entry, Shaq Diesel, reached 25 on the Billboard 200 music charts and did receive platinum certification from the Recording Industry Association of America.

You’ve definitely seen him in that commercial for (takes breath): The General, Pepsi, Gold Bond, Papa John’s, Hulu, Epson, IcyHot, Reebok, Nestlé Crunch, Buick, Wheaties, Burger King, Taco Bell, Vitamin Water, Spalding, Comcast, Macy’s, NBA 2K, Dove for Men, Muscle Milk, 24-Hour Fitness, and on and on. Sports Illustrated even posted “The top 50 Shaq endorsements” article back in 2015!

Shaq-Fu could easily be called Shaq-Feud as well, as has been involved in numerous (countless, even) feuds as both a player and now in retirement. Damn near everyone knows about how he and Bryant did not get along so well. Even recently, he’s had beef with current players, including Ben Simmons and Rudy Gobert. He does seem to have solid relationships with his kids, though.

He’s won the biggest awards and holds some of the largest honors in NBA history, including:

  • MVP
  • Rookie of the Year
  • 15 All-Star game nods
  • 3 All-Star MVPS
  • 14 All-NBA selections
  • 3 All-Defensive Team honors
  • 2 scoring titles
  • 3 NBA Finals MVPs
  • 5 NBA championships

We would bet on Shaq being a big presence for a long time to come, but just how big exactly, well, we guess we’ll just have to take his word for it.

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Kay Adams