That's another reason Shaq loves L.A.: It's Movietown, and Shaq was raised on movies. Rocky IV is what made him start lifting weights. The Superman movies gave him an alter ego. He keeps an original Freddy Krueger prop glove and one of the masks from Jim Carrey's The Mask at his penthouse, where he sits in front of his DirecTV screen and orders up movies by the dozen—he has seen his own Kazaam more than a dozen times—at $2.99 each. "I must own this company by now, bro," he says gleefully, for he is never so happy as when he is spending money at ungodly rates.
If he keeps making movies as dreadful as Kazaam, he will soon have a little less to spend. His next movie, Steel, is supposed to be better. Based on the comic-book series of the same name, it's the story of a former military metallurgist who dons a suit of armor and fights crime. The movie was Shaq's idea, naturally. He handed the comic book to Quincy Jones and said, "This is me." Replied Q: "Let's star you in it!" At that very moment, 5,000 classically trained actors working as waiters blanched.
In this movie, which was filmed last summer and should be released in August, Shaq did most of his own stunt work, possibly because every other agile 7'1", 300-pounder was already employed in the NBA. Shaq ran under a burning helicopter. He jumped off a moving train. He jumped from the top of one 20-story building to another.
"Shaq," I say, "you've got another job making $17 million a year. Are you out of your cranium?" Dirt muffles a laugh.
"Bro, me and Dirt used to do that stuff all the time back home [in Newark]," Shaq says. "Roof to roof? We'd do that s—-daily."
LITTLE SANTA MONICA BLVD., CENTURY CITY
As we extend the record for Longest Interview with Fewest Words Exchanged, there is not much to do besides wonder how life will be when we're as deaf as Pete Townshend—and, of course, take stock of the subject at hand. For a genetic freak, Shaq is perfectly proportioned. Standing in a field 100 yards away, he looks like anybody else. It's only when you get close that your flabber gets gasted. From his belt to the floor you could fit Ross Perot. His neck is 19 inches around. His size-22 sneakers are so big that whenever he signs a pair and they are taken back up to the Lakers public relations office, people gather around and take turns stepping into them—shoes and all—giggling all the while.
Unlike many of the tall, Shaq doesn't slouch, and often, when he gets dressed up, he wears fedoras that make him even taller. He wears either sweats or gorgeous high-collared suits—nothing in between. He paints his toenails. He is a wonderful dancer, as I see sometimes when we park and he gets out and starts dancing to his four-wheel concert. His voice is nice, even Shaqapella.
His hands are huge and soft, and at Lakers practices he likes nothing more than leading a fast break. "He's got a crossover dribble," gasps Bryant. "A seven-footer with a crossover dribble!"
He has an easy way about him and likes to pull legs. If you introduce yourself as Steve, he might say, "Nice t'meetcha, Doug."