7-foot-1 and one of the NBA’s greatest centers of all time, the Hall of Fame superstar known around the world as Shaq is not used to being rejected.
Still, when 50-year-old Shaquille O’Neal visited her beloved Uncle Roy’s home in Orlando, Fla., for CBS’s “Secret Celebrity Renovation.” offered to completely remodel the then selfless “true uncle” who had kept O’Neill’s family in 1992. The rookie was drafted for the Orlando Magic, politely declined.
“When I first asked him, he said ‘no.’ I had to bring my mom, the eldest brother,” O’Neill says. “She talked to him and got him to do it.”
As CBS’s reality rehab show Everybody Wins, its second season continues, airing Friday (8 p.m. EDT/PDT). Larger-than-life O’Neill discussed what he would be “the best celebrity renewal ever” airing in September.
‘I know I messed up’:Shaquille O’Neal opens up about her 2011 divorce
Q: We’re sure this will be the best renovation show ever, but why?
Herbs: I watch some renewal shows and when I see the reveal, that renewal is not there. I don’t know if there’s a word above luxury, but this renovation is exactly that. Like their stove, refrigerator, and wood trimmings, I don’t have them in any of my mansions. It was something else.
Q: Why was your Uncle Roy the slam dunk choice for this honor?
Herbs: I am a very gifted family guy. But if I call him and say ‘Uncle Roy, I have a million, do you want $100,000?’ He’ll always say ‘No, you work hard for that.’ He never asked for anything in my entire time, no money for a flight or a business deal, nothing.
Question: Will we see your or Uncle Roy’s tears during the emotional reveal of ‘Renovation’?
Herbs: Growing up in tears, we weren’t allowed to share feelings. We only share feelings by hugging and saying “thank you.”
Q: Boston legends center Bill Russell passed away this week, what kind of inspiration was he for you?
Herbs: I grew up knowing that Bill Russell was a great man. But I didn’t know until I talked to him about how cool. He could not stay in the same hotels as his (white) peers, people used to write harsh words to him. At that time, he never made the money I had earned, but never complained. These conversations taught me to be mentally strong, never complain and not be a crying baby with everything I have.
Q: In 2021, you vowed to buy Russell’s championship ring at auction, right?
Herbs: No, I was too late. I didn’t want to go through the auction process. I wanted to find out who was in charge and make an offer you can’t refuse and buy everything. But they kept me going through this auction process and by the time (the auction list) came, and I selected my item numbers, it was a day too late. Boy, was I (angry).
Q: Your longtime “inside the NBA” colleague, Charles Barkley, seriously considered a lucrative, exclusive announcement contract with the controversial Saudi-backed LIV golf chain. Have you tried talking to him?
Herbs: No, Charles is a dear friend. I support him in every way. Charles is one of those legends, like Bill Russell, who didn’t make a lot of money playing. So if there’s an opportunity at this age that’s legal – controversial but legal – you have to look at it. If he had accepted it, I wouldn’t have been mad. And what if Charles was gone? You will still be with me.
‘Winning Time’, the Casting Magic of HBO’s Los Angeles Lakers
Q: You have criticized HBO’s “Winning Time” for its exaggerated portrayal of former Los Angeles Lakers star and general manager Jerry West. Any other show critiques?
Shaq, It was ahead of my time, but that portrayal of Jerry West was despicable. He’s not that man. Jerry West was a good general manager, always done right by me. All the other things that I liked. As a fan, and as a person watching TV, the cinematography and action were great. It has been shot very well. But not in the way he did with Mr. West.
Q: You danced to the song “Maniac” on 2016’s “Lip Sync Battle” from “Flashdance” featuring Jennifer Beals and you just posted a new, immortal version online. What’s with the obsession?
Herbs: As a youth, I wanted to be Leroy on TV’s “Fame”. I started dancing in the “Fame” style, and that helped me become a great basketball player. You need rhythm on the court and dance makes you more athletic.
Again, this is a true story, years later I’m sitting next to this woman on a plane and I swear she’s from “Flashdance”. My god, she was so beautiful. I wanted to flirt, but I didn’t want to lead that “flashdance” question. We get off and meet again at the luggage. So I introduced myself and asked if she was in “Flashdance”. It was Jennifer Beals. She was one of the first superstars I ever met. And she was very nice. That’s why I love him.