NBA legend Shaq says former pregame habits included staying up late, eating fries, drinking soda

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At the height of his NBA career, Shaquille O’Neal was considered the most dominant force in the league. 

The superstar center was able to blend size with athleticism. Apparently, O’Neal was able to remain one of the best basketball players on the planet despite some of his off-court habits.

O’Neal detailed his former unconventional pregame traditions, which involved staying awake until at least 4 a.m. and consuming fries and soda.

“I never go to bed early. Since (I was) 18 years old, I’ve never gone to bed before 12 o’clock,” O’Neal said on a recent edition of the “The Big Pod with Shaq” alongside fellow NBA legend Allen Iverson.

“Shaq, we’re playing at 7,” Iverson replied.


Shaq in 2015

Shaquille ONeal smiles as he is inducted into the Orlando Magic Hall of Fame at the Amway Center on March 27, 2015, in Orlando, Florida.  (Stephen M. Dowell/Orlando Sentinel/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)

O’Neal added that he would eat club sandwiches, french fries and drink pineapple soda after he finished a morning shootaround session. 


“That’s what I’m saying, you can take a nap. That was my thing, stay out all night, right? Like just 4:00. Get up at 10:00. Go to shootaround, mess around, come back. Two turkey clubs, fries and a pineapple soda, and then I’ll sleep the four hours.”

The former Los Angeles Lakers superstar suggested that some of his lifestyle faced unfair scrutiny.

Shaq in 2001 with the Lakers

Apr 22, 2001; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Laker center Shaquille O’Neal sits next to “X-Files” star David Duchovny after being taken out of the games in the 4th quarter of the 1st round NBA Playoff game at Staples Center. (Robert Hanashiro/USA TODAY-USA TODAY NETWORK)

“That’s what I need before the game. Like if I get that three hours before the game, no matter what I did the night before, I’m killing somebody. They always try to make a big deal of him going out,” O’Neal noted.

Shaquille O'Neal smiling in photo

Pictured: Shaquille O’Neal on Thursday, March 14, 2019. (Nathan Congleton/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)

“It’s only basketball man,'” Iverson chimed in. “I don’t care what time the game is… I’m gon play harder than anybody. Man you owe it to the fans. You owe it to your team. You owe it to God for giving you the talent… I played every game like it was my last.”


O’Neal won three NBA titles with the Lakers. He was named to seven All-Star teams during his storied eight-year run in Los Angeles.

O’Neal went one to win a fourth championship with the Miami Heat. He was enshrined into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2016.

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