shaq-and-dale-earnhardt

During his playing days, which were a lot more recent than you remember, Shaquille O’Neal was notorious for playing himself in to shape. Whether it be due to an offseason surgery he scheduled way too late, some sort of injury setback that required on-the-job rehab or just pure laziness, Shaqueezy would play significant portions of numerous NBA seasons below peak conditioning while getting ready for the playoffs where it “really mattered.” This is pretty much the biggest knock against Shaq, just ahead of the fact that he never won a rebounding title despite being as big as a dumpster.

Turns out he should have just spent his summers driving NASCAR cars, because that’s apparently the toughest thing he’s ever done. From a NASCAR.com interview, as transcribed by From the Marbles:

In an interview with NASCAR.com, O’Neal recalled the time in 2010 when he raced Dale Earnhardt Jr. for the reality show “Shaq Vs.” And O’Neal came away impressed:

“Whoever said these guys aren’t athletes are out of their minds,” he said. “That was the toughest three hours I’ve ever had in my life. I was fitted for a car, me and Dale raced 50 laps, and I slept for two days after that. I really did.”

It wasn’t just the heat and the confined space. “I was terrified,” O’Neal continued. “I don’t really get scared by a lot of stuff, but I was freaking terrified. You definitely have to be in great shape to do this.”

Oh, and one other element: “You’ve got to be small. I don’t think a big guy like me would really survive out on the track. You’ve got to be smaller.”

You see, this would be a perfect offseason training regimen. Three hours of driving is way more efficient than, like, 50 squats or whatever. Just hop in a super-fast car that is hard to control, drive in circles for an afternoon, then sleep for two days — next thing you know, you’re in perfect basketball shape (I am assuming). I mean, if a 15-time All-Star with four titles is saying it’s a tough workout, you know it must be true. Shaquille O’Neal is definitely the one to trust on this. He’s played in Game 7s.

Or if you are feeling less generous — Shaquille O’Neal, a professional basketball player who was often criticized for being out of shape, says driving a car was the hardest three hours of his life. Oh, and he drove the car while he was still playing, but was still knocked out for two days after the driving. Choose your own adventure.