Shaq Has Not Panicked Since Age 9, When He Lit a Teddy Bear on Fire


Allow the absurdity of that statement to set in. He really said that! It comes from this weekend’s Deborah Solomon Q&A with the aging basketball star in the New York Times Magazine. It’s full of the classic quotes and good humor that made the The Real Shaq the original Kanye West.

Plus, a spelling test!

When was the last time you panicked?

When you were 9?
We were living with relatives, and I just happened to steal a lighter from the kitchen counter. I had a teddy bear. My thing was to just light the tail and then blow it out and laugh. Ha, ha. But as soon as I lit the tail, the whole thing caught on fire. It almost caught the house on fire. I got the whooping of my life.

He is, of course, plugging something — his upcoming show Shaq Vs., in which he faces off against experts including a cook-off with Rachel Ray, golf against Charles Barkley and something with Justin Bieber. Also, a spelling bee champion:

How do you spell the name of Wally Szczerbiak, your former teammate on the Cleveland Cavaliers?

Very close.
I knew it was close.

He goes on to say he’s getting his doctorate by writing a dissertation entitled “How Leaders Utilize Humor or Aggression in Leadership Styles.” He is, as they say, the man.