Which nickname is future NBA Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal going by now that’s he’s retired? Big Daddy? Superman? Shaq Fu? The Big Aristotle?
Nope. Diesel. I know this because that’s how he introduced himself when I answered the phone Wednesday.
“What up?” said the baritone voice on the other end. “This is Diesel.”
Diesel — who was calling from Orlando — has been working on several ventures since announcing his retirement after 19 seasons in the NBA in June. He continues to dabble in law enforcement, has shown interest in bringing an NBA team to his hometown of Newark, New Jersey, once the New Jersey Nets leave for Brooklyn and he recently completed four months of film school at the New York Film Academy in hopes of going into directing.
“I’ve got a couple of scripts I’m looking at now,” O’Neal said. “Action movies and comedies.”
O’Neal also is behind a new national comedy tour: Shaquille O’Neal Presents All Star Comedy Jam. The show hits The Venue at Horseshoe Casino in Hammond Friday and is hosted by Chicago native and “Barbershop” and “Semi-Pro” actor DeRay Davis. “I’ve been wanting to work with DeRay,” O’Neal said. “He’s hot right now. He’s on his way, and I’m trying to make him bigger.”
The lineup also features comedians Corey Holcomb, Capone, Michael Blackson and Gary Owen — or as O’Neal called him, “the white guy.” “He holds his own.” O’Neal said of Owen. “If you come through an urban comedy show — the white guy better be funny or else.”
O’Neal, who plans to attend the upcoming shows in Cleveland and Philadelphia but not Friday’s show in Hammond, has attached his name to comedy specials and DVDs in the past. Some might remember his two roasts (O’Neal was roasted during one, Dallas Cowboys great Emmitt Smith was roasted during the other). He said they discontinued the insult-heavy series when trends in the comedy world moved away from roasting, but he hopes to get back into the genre soon.
Who would he most like to see get roasted?
“I probably would want to do something different — like a roast panel,” O’Neal said. “I would put Kobe (Bryant), LeBron (James), (Charles) Barkley and (Dennis) Rodman up there and have a round table of 15 comedians go at it. If I press a few buttons, I could make it happen.”
O’Neal had an opportunity to take part in the genre again when he was asked to appear on Comedy Central’s roast of “Baywatch” star David Hasselhoff in August 2010. He originally accepted the offer but later backed out.
“I had jokes for his (butt),” O’Neal said of Hasselhoff. “But my people didn’t want me to go on TV and be vulgar. My jokes were really vulgar.”
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