Shareef O’Neal wants to follow in the footsteps of his famous father, but it appears that Shaquille O’Neal has other plans for his 22-year-old son.
After Shareef’s pre-draft workout with the Los Angeles Lakers, for whom his father played from 1996 to 2004, the topic came up during a press conference.
Shareef talked about how his career goals are different from what his father has in mind during the conference.
The 22-year-old said, “We kind of bump heads about this process. “He wanted me to continue my education. Through this, I hoped to become a better person.
Shareef continued, “He didn’t do any pre-draft workouts; he just got straight on the [Orlando Magic], so it’s a different grind.” He didn’t want me to do this, and I apologize even though he probably doesn’t want me to say it. We are both adults. We’ll move on from it.
Shareef discussed the inevitable comparisons that people make between him and Shaquille while still talking about his famous father.
“I feel like the story between me and him is completely different now. He didn’t experience some of the things that I did. He was selected first overall in the draft. I had to sort of work my way here. I had to grind a lot,” he noted. “I had to go through some stuff these past four years — foot injuries, heart surgeries — and I don’t really look to be in his shadow.”
“I know it’s always going to be there, the comparison,” Shareef continued. “Every kid is going to get compared to their dad who does the same thing as them. So that’s going to be there. It doesn’t bother me.”
Shareef also spoke about how he feels the invitation to the pre-draft workout is helping to make up for him not “getting enough opportunity” during college, as he played basketball for both UCLA and LSU.
“I felt like, in college, I wasn’t getting enough opportunity. I wasn’t feeling like myself in college,” he said. “[The invite] kind of opened a lot of doors for me… I feel like it really brought me back and kind of showed a little bit what I can do.”
“Once I started getting calls from teams to work out, I was like, ‘Man, this is what I want to do.’ I mean I’m here, it’s right in front of me, so just go for it. I therefore kept working, Shareef said.
Shareef enthused about getting to wear authentic Lakers attire, calling himself “star-struck.”
“When I entered today, I felt a little star struck. I feel like I was born into this squad. When I was a baby, my father and Kobe won championships, and now it’s my turn to wear Lakers apparel. It was absurd. I was kind of speechless, Shareef recounted.
It’s a huge blessing for the team I watched growing up. It’s incredible that I wear Lakers gear now since my dad won championships with this team. It’s a reality of a dream,” he added.