Shareef O’Neal has had a big supper, representing his father Shaquille’s former team — the Los Angeles Lakers — in the Las Vegas Summer League before signing for the NBA G League Ignite.
The Lakers offered Shareef a spot on their roster for the Summer League after he became an undrafted free agent in June. The 6-foot-10 forward averaged 4.8 points and 3.8 rebounds in four Vegas games for the Lakers, which wasn’t enough to remain with the team and join in the preparations for the 2022-23 season.
But Shareef later signed a six-figure with the Ignite, the NBA’s development team in the G League that produced a number of would-be NBA players. And despite his father’s reservations about turning pro this year without graduating from college, Shaquille told USA Today’s Bryan Kalbrosky he enjoyed watching Shareef in action during the Summer League:
“Man, it was good. I set high standards like what my father set for me. He’s working hard. Of course, being an O’Neal kid, everyone thinks his journey is going to be like mine. But I tell my kids all the time: “I’m an Amazonian that walks through the jungle. I’m crazy. Your path will never be like my path. You’ll have to choose your own path. However you’ll make it, you’ll make it.” He decided to go early. He had a good summer league and he will be in the G League. He still has a chance to fulfill his dream.”
Shaquille added Shareef’s path to a successful career will involve finding a different motivation to “go for it” than he did back in 1992 when he entered the NBA with a goal to earn enough money to buy a house for his mom:
“I tell him all the time: ‘You are never going to be me. Don’t let people tell you that you’re me because you’re not. Your father is crazy. Your father is an idiot. Your father was a monster on the court. You’re not like that. Develop your game. Develop your style. It’s fortunate and unfortunate that you’ll have to live with that name. But create your own way.’ Hopefully, that takes the pressure off because I was crazy. I had to make it. He don’t really have to make it. But I had to make it. So I ran through walls because my motivation was different. I only had one thing: I had to buy my mom a house. Even if I just played for two years, as long as that lady got a new house, I was happy. He has to find his motivation and go for it.”
Shaquille and his son finally see eye to eye when it comes to Shareef’s professional career. Earlier this year, the 22-year-old said he was aware that his basketball journey will look unlike his father’s.
“He didn’t do any pre-draft workouts,” Shareef said. “He just got straight on a team. It’s a different grind.”
Shareef responds to criticism from Robert Horry
Shareef has proven his persistence, turning pro against his dad’s wishes as well as responding to his critics. Last month, Lakers icon Robert Horry said he didn’t know if Shareef had “that dog in him” to chase his dreams.
I know this outta love and no disrespect!!! I got you Big Shot, but you know who raised me. I don’t quit,” Shareef tweeted in response.
“Always been taught to go get it and take it. Been heading in the right step… like I said I got you! You’ll see.”