Scott Mlyn | CNBC
Shaquille O’Neal is firing Lebron James back for criticizing the NBA and its schedule this year. In an interview with CNBC, the former Los Angeles Lakers and TNT broadcaster star said he felt players shouldn’t complain about the full schedule this season.
“If you live in a world where 40 million people have been laid off and I make $ 200 million, you are not going to complain about me,” said O’Neal. “I would play back to back to back to back,” he added.
“I don’t knock on what anyone said, but personally I don’t complain or apologize because real people are working their way off and all we have to do is work out two hours a day and then play a game for two hours at night and make lots of money … So my thinking process is a little different. “
O’Neal’s comments come after James’ criticism that the schedule was responsible for the abundance of high-profile injuries this year, a claim the league has denied.
“They all didn’t want to listen to me about the start of the season. I knew exactly what was going to happen … These injuries aren’t just ‘PART OF THE GAME’. It’s the lack of PURE RIM REST,” James said in a series of tweets on June 16.
James’ Lakers were eliminated by the Phoenix Suns in the first round of the NBA playoffs.
“This is the first time juggernauts have gone missing in a while,” said O’Neal.
Still, he likes the potential storylines for the finale of two small teams (Atlanta and Phoenix) or a scenario in which the strength of a young Giannis Antetokounmpo (Milwaukee) is played off against an aging Chris Paul (Phoenix).
“May the best team win,” he said.
As well as talking about basketball, O’Neal shed light on his newest business: esports. The tall man was a key figure in creating the basis for a new partnership between insurance company The General and the NRG team for the popular game Rocket League. Shaq is a partner in NRG and a longtime brand ambassador for The General.
In April, The General bought the naming rights for the Rocket League team from NRG, and the team is now called “The General Insurance NRG”. The company says it will be the first agreement on the Rocket League’s naming rights. The financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, and O’Neal did not disclose the size of his stake.
O’Neal said that while not a gamer, he has seen esports success firsthand through his children, who are active gamblers. He said he got his first taste of esports at an event at the Staples Center that he attended with his kids and was instantly drawn to the excitement, energy and competitive spirit and knew this would be a good investment.
“I like what the esports community is doing – lots of scholarships, people make a living from it, and some of these esports guys are already legends,” he said.
O’Neal invests in almost every sector from food and beverage to health to automobiles. He said he looks at three things when making an investment decision: Will it change people’s lives, does he believe in it, and will it have a long lifespan?
“My system was safe and proven and I haven’t lost much,” he added.
See the full interview below:
Correction: This story has been updated to reflect that The General bought the naming rights for the Rocket League team from NRG and the team is now called “The General Insurance NRG”.