Shaquille O'Neal reveals he played through pain so fans got their money's worth: "If I didn't take the painkillers, I wouldn't have a great game"

Tyson Fury v Deontay Wilder
Shaquille O'Neal at the Tyson Fury vs Deontay Wilder fight

Shaquille O'Neal revealed that he played through pain many times in his career so that fans got their money's worth. O'Neal was known for his dominance on the basketball court, but kept his pain a secret. The four-time NBA champ also disclosed taking painkillers during his playing days.

In an interview with Jason Jones of The Athletic, O'Neal discussed his on-going docuseries titled "Shaq" on HBO. The LA Lakers legend opened up about playing hurt back in the day and using painkillers at times to cope. He credited his winning mentality for soldiering on during bad days.

"I could have a good game, but if I didn't take the painkillers, I wouldn't have a great game," O'Neal said. "Sometimes I'd take it, and I'd be bleeding when I (used the bathroom). There would be blood, but when you're a warrior and you're trying to win — win for yourself, win for your family and win for everybody — nothing matters and nobody cares. That was my mentality."

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Shaquille O'Neal also explained why he played despite being hurt and in pain. The Hall of Famer wanted to put on a show for the fans who spent their hard-earned money to watch him play. He's also had a soft spot for kids who idolized him and wanted to see him live in the arena.

"When you get to a certain level, people expect you to play at that level all the time," O'Neal said. "Once I became Shaq, nobody cares that your knees hurt. Nobody cares that you have a torn abdomen. We pay our money to watch you play; we want to see a great game, and I took that in stride, too.
"You know one of my favorite words, perseverance â€Ļ Just have to persevere, brother. That's what it's all about."

To read Jason Jones' entire interview with Shaquille O'Neal, click here.

Why did Shaquille O'Neal release a docuseries?

Shaquille O'Neal at the NBA Abu Dhabi Games 2022
Shaquille O'Neal at the NBA Abu Dhabi Games 2022

Shaquille O'Neal is known for his fun personality on and off the court. His antics at All-Star Weekends are classics, while his banter with Charles Barkley on "Inside the NBA" is legendary. He's one of the greatest players in NBA history, so it's not surprising he has his own documentary.

But in "Shaq," O'Neal didn't want to share only his good side. He also wanted to be vulnerable in front of the camera so people could see that he's like everybody else.

He has had trouble sleeping ever since the death of his sister Ayesha Harrison-Jex in 2019 and former LA Lakers teammate Kobe Bryant a year later.


O'Neal opened up about his regrets as a player, with teammates such as Penny Hardaway and Bryant. He also discussed his personal life, from his marriage to Shaunie Henderson to not being the best father when his kids were growing up.

"Shaq" is a four-part docuseries on HBO and HBO Max. The first episode was released on Nov. 23, and the subsequent episodes will air every Wednesday, 9 p.m. ET.

Also Read: "He threw it all away being arrogant and cocky" - Shaquille O'Neal takes another shot at Kanye West, says narcissistic people blames others for their mistakes

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Edited by Juan Paolo David
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