Sheriff O’Neill says father, Shaq, is now on board after butting his heads over NBA draft decision

Las Vegas – Once he told reporters that he and his father are a basketball legend Shaquille O’Neal“bumps” over his decision to drop out of college and enter the NBA draft, Sheriff O’Neill said he knew he made a mistake.

Young O’Neal, who had just signed an NBA summer league contract with the Los Angeles Lakers in July, called his dad and told him about his comments at his first NBA press conference. The elder O’Neill was not told about the signing. But that moment began a dialogue that cemented the bond between them.

Younger O’Neill said Wednesday that his father is now involved in the decision.

Once we had a deal, he joined my side,” said Sheriff O’Neill, who is now with G League Ignite, in Las Vegas. He said, ‘You are my son. I will support you no matter what. “He has helped me so much over the past few months. I think he has brought us closer than ever. I feel like my whole family has come even closer.”

Sheriff O’Neill, a tough, unpolished 6-foot-10 striker, will make his Ignite debut Thursday in his team fair against Victor Wimpanyama, the predicted No. 1 pick in the 2023 NBA Draft, and the Metropolitans 92, the French professional team, at the Dollar Loan Center At 3 p.m. Eastern time.

O’Neal averaged 2.6 points per game in 37 combined games at UCLA and LSU. He transferred to LSU, his father’s university, in 2020, two years after discovering a life-threatening heart condition that nearly ended his career.

“You know, I think about it every day,” he said. “It’s a blessing to be here in this position because, you know, there were a few months where I thought basketball was taken away and that I was going to have to find something else.”

O’Neal said a lot of people told him to stay at LSU and not enter the NBA draft last summer. He said he had to choose for himself, though, even if it meant not getting immediate support from his father, the NBA Hall of Famer and the first pick in the 1992 NBA Draft.

He also said that leaving school and entering military service were related to the number of disturbances he experienced. He was sidelined for over a year after having heart surgery four years ago. He suffered multiple stress fractures to both of his feet during his time at LSU.

“I’ve been over-sitting a bit,” he said. “It’s infuriating me to quit the basketball games. I’ve already had a year and a half through heart surgery. I kept hurting and didn’t know what was going to happen, so I just bet myself and said, ‘I want to be a pro.'” Everyone was telling me it was Bad idea: the coaches and the family. I didn’t let that discourage me. I just kept moving forward.”

Sheriff O’Neill said that while he was expressing his reasons for making the decision, Shaquille O’Neal began to understand his son’s perspective and then began helping him on his journey. After his summer contract with the Lakers expired, he wasn’t sure of his professional options. The Lakers did not offer him another chance.

But his father was related to Jason Hart, a former NBA guard and coach for the Ignite team, and Sherif Abdel Rahim, a former NBA star and current president of the G League. Sheriff O’Neill was named after Abdul Rahim.

Those relationships helped young O’Neill find a place with Ignite, whom Scoot Henderson cemented, the anticipated No. 2 pick in this summer’s NBA Draft, and other young stars and veterans aiming for another shot at the league. O’Neill said he is grateful for his father’s support and, more importantly, their relationship.

“I feel like [my father and I] Shocked heads simultaneously—this is really the first time we’ve had a disagreement like this—it brought us closer than ever,” he said. This is my best friend and my dad too. I love him.”

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