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Shaq's World
Rick Reilly
April 21, 1997
Since Shaquille O'Neal left Orlando and moved to Los Angeles to play for the Lakers, he and his posse have been livin' large—and unbelievably loud
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April 21, 1997

Shaq's World

Since Shaquille O'Neal left Orlando and moved to Los Angeles to play for the Lakers, he and his posse have been livin' large—and unbelievably loud

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"No, bro. My s—-is all messed up. It comes off all to the right."

Says Abdul-Jabbar, "That would explain a few things."

THE PENTHOUSE, WILSHIRE CORRIDOR

If you were as rich as Shaq, you would probably live like he lives. He has hired half his family and some friends, too. As we said, it is unclear exactly what these people do, but Shaq would do anything for his relatives and pals, including pay and, in many cases, house and feed them. There is Kenny, Shaq's cousin, whose main job seems to be to remind Shaq of things. Today, for instance, Kenny reminds Shaq that he has a radio show to do at 5 o'clock. But you would not say Kenny is Shaq's personal scheduler, because that is Uncle Mike's title. This means that Uncle Mike gets the day's personal schedule from Armato and in turn gives it to Shaq. Why Armato cannot give it to Shaq himself is unclear.

Uncle Mike also seems to have something to do with security, but that seems to be the official job of Uncle Jerome, who is not Shaq's uncle at all but was Mike's partner on the Newark police force. It is also unclear why a 25-year-old giant who has practiced martial arts needs a full-time security man 13 years older than he is, but this is none of our business, and besides, Jerome looks like he could turn a reporter into a large blood clot.

Bucky is Shaq's driver, but then so is Dirt, although I did not see either of them drive Shaq anywhere. Still, Bucky is always driving somebody, and, as a native Angeleno, he must stand by at all times for emergency routing calls from Shaq. "I'm by the big doughnut," Shaq might phone to say. "Is there a shortcut home from here?"

Joe, Shaq's chum from high school, has a very clear job. He handles the mail.

There is also Thomas, Shaq's personal chef. Shaq hired Thomas away from a Hyatt Regency near Orlando at twice his salary because of the exquisite way he made Shaq's club sandwich one day. It is unclear how much job fulfillment there is in Thomas's position. For instance, as part of Shaq's unbreakable game-day ritual, Thomas makes two beautiful Dagwood sandwiches for Shaq, who takes one bite out of one sandwich and leaves the rest. Thomas also seems to warm the baby's milk a lot. This is life in Shaq's World: One day you are working in a giant hotel's restaurant operation, and the next day you are making a small fortune dabbing milk on your wrists.

Since the injury, there is even less for Thomas to do, because Shaq has cut back his colossal intake of food and eats mostly salads and fruits. (One day after a workout, Shaq pulls up his sweaty size XXXXXL shirt and shoves his bagel-sized belly button against my thorax. "Pinch an inch," he challenges. I try. I cannot. Still, this is much closer to an interview subject than I care to be.)

Mostly, though, the Men of Unclear Purpose stand around the pool table in Shaq's penthouse and shoot a lively game of craps. Then many of them go home to Shaq's Manhattan Beach house, which they have to themselves because Shaq doesn't like it anymore. ("Too many people knockin' on the door," he grumbles.)

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