*Shaquille O’Neal is a lot of things – rapper, actor, commentator, doctor, deputy police deputy, reality television star, subject of the single worst video game ever made. He’s a modern renaissance man, with as many nicknames (“Shaq”, “The Diesel”, “Shaq Fu” and “Superman,” among thousands of others) as he has hobbies.
However, “team executive” is one title he’s never had on his rather accomplished resume. Actually, it’s probably the only job he hasn’t done. However, if he aces a job interview with the Orlando Magic soon, Shaq could very well end up as the next GM of one of the NBA’s 32 teams.
Could it work? On the surface, all the available evidence doesn’t look promising. The track record of former players serving as GM is mixed, at best. Danny Ainge with the Celtics and Mitch Kupchak (and before him, Jerry West) with the Lakers can be considered successful; Joe Dumars and Larry Bird have had their moments in Detroit and Indiana. However, legends like Elgin Baylor (with the Clippers) Michael Jordan (with the Wizards) and Isiah Thomas (with the Knicks) were outright comic disasters.
He’d have a tough task in hand, trying to rebuild the Magic, without even a hint of NBA front-office experience. Stan Van Gundy, the coach that lead the team to a Finals appearance three seasons ago, lost an epic power struggle to his star center Dwight Howard and was forced out alongside the team’s former GM, Otis Smith. Howard remains in his petulant man-child state, an absolute force on the court who is well on the way to ruining a franchise off it; bringing in a man who famously battled with Dwight over a “Superman” nickname probably does not bode well for harmony between the big boss and the big star.
However, the idea could also fall squarely into the “crazy enough to work” category. Shaq is, obviously, a bright and verbose guy who could learn on the job. The next crop of NBA free agents grew up in the heart of the Shaq era, so he could serve as a natural draw to bring premiere players into Florida – already a top destination for the weather and the taxes. He’s got the natural charisma and popularity to draw in and entertain more fans to the middle-of-the-pack Magic franchise. So, it’s probably not the worst pick in the world. Then again, you would be entrusting your basketball operations to the man who said “Yes” to Kazaam…
Shaquille O’Neal has turned down the offer.