Orlando Magic honchos are set to meet with the team’s former star center Shaquille O’Neal next week to talk about him making a return to basketball … as a general manager. That is, without a doubt, the most ridiculous thing I’ve heard all week. Yes, the Magic are in need of a GM after having let Otis Smith go, but Shaq can barely put three words together to form a complete sentence. How in the world do they expect him to hold down a front-office job? I’m almost more qualified than him for that role.
To prove my point, I Googled the responsibilities of a general manager in the NBA. First and foremost, GMs are in charge of making all personnel decisions, including the hiring of coaches and trainers, as well as bringing talented players on board. I’m sure Shaq has some great connections that could work in the Magic’s favor … perhaps, he could even convince Dwight Howard to stay in Orlando. And that’s about all Shaq has going for him. I’m sorry, but five horrid rap albums, two failed reality TV shows, taking jabs at Charles Barkley on TNT, “Kazaam” and “Blue Chips” are not exactly résumé-worthy accomplishments.
Even Magic CEO Alex Martins’ list of qualifications doesn’t make Shaq a reasonable candidate whatsoever. According to the Orlando Sentinel, Martins is looking for someone with extensive experience, a strong background in managing player personnel, a history of successful long-term planning and the ability to set a culture for the basketball operations department. About the only thing on Martins’ wish list that would qualify him for the position is NBA championship experience. As a member of the Los Angeles Lakers and Miami Heat, Shaq won four championships.
Aside from the fact that he is now Dr. Shaquille O’Neal, Ph.D., which I think is absurd (you have a doctorate in organizational learning for Pete’s sake!!), the man has zero skills when it comes to handling the media and conducting interviews. Ideally, serious general manager candidates should have a background in economics or business management since they have to help with creating budgets, contract negotiations, collective bargaining issues and the like. It doesn’t matter how many years he’s spent on the court if he doesn’t know how to balance a checkbook.
If you ask me, Shaq, who retired almost a year ago, would be a better fit as the successor for axed coach Stan Van Gundy. I mean, he knows how to play basketball and he knows what it takes to win. Maybe if Shaq spent a few years as a scout or served as director of player personnel or assistant general manager for one of the NBA teams, I could take him more seriously. Right now, every time someone mentions his name, all I hear is this.