Over the course of his career, Shaquille O'Neal has worn many proverbial hats: All-Star and future Hall of Fame basketball player, philanthropist, TV analyst and dater of very short women, to name but a few. Now, after a Thursday ceremony honoring O'Neal as one of America's "Fathers of the Year" we can add another trait to Shaq's long list: Master motivator.
That's because, as reported by Sports Illustrated, O'Neal once coaxed a dramatic comeback out of his young son's basketball team by offering a rather unique payoff for a victory: A trip to Hooter's.
"We made it all the way to the championship game. We were down by eight with two minutes left," O'Neal told SI.com's Erin Weaver. "So I gave the only speech I could think to give. I said, 'If we win this, I'll take you to Hooters.' And we won by six, so I guess it worked!"
Move over Vince Lombardi, Shaq has a Hooters card up his sleeve, and he's not afraid to use it.
It's unknown whether O'Neal's son -- one of five children he calls his own, though only four are biologically his -- and teammates ever actually scored their promised trip to the adult-themed burgers and wings joint or not. What is certain is that it takes a special mind to even think of bribing elementary schoolers with a trip to a restaurant chain known most for skimpy outfits and creepy ads featuring Dick Vitale.
In a way, O'Neal's admission of Hooters-inspired hoops success is a perfect example of just why the Big Aristotle is so entertaining. It's impossible to predict what he's going to say or do — remember this "I'm a Maniac" video? — even when his protective radar should be up for his childrens' sake.
And whether or not his son and teammates got to go, something tells Prep Rally that Shaq may have taken a Hooters trip a time or two in his days. Dick Vitale would be proud.