Shaquille O'Neal made his way back to the basketball court.
He's not back in the NBA recreating his career with the Miami Heat or the Los Angeles Lakers, but rather on the black courts and back on the silver screen as part of the new basketball comedy "Uncle Drew," which opened in theaters Friday.
The NBA-heavy cast includes well-known names from the league including O'Neal, Kyrie Irving, Aaron Gordon, Chris Webber, Reggie Miller and Nate Robinson as well as WNBA star Lisa Leslie.
O'Neal spoke with the Miami Herald on Thursday ahead of the film's release. Below is a Q&A.
What was the process of making the movie like?
"The most tedious thing was putting on the makeup for four hours a day. Other than that, yes it's acting, but you're asking basketball players to play older basketball players. Very impressed with the cast. Kyrie was super intelligent and knew all his lines. He came prepared every day and was super serious about the project. "Uncle Drew" started because of him as a Pepsi spot. Otherwise, it was fun, it's compelling, it's romantic, it's sensitive. It's definitely a family-fun flick,so hopefully people like it."
Who looked the best and who looked the worst in makeup?
"Kyrie probably looked the best because his was the most even. Mine was sort of like how my great-grandfather looked, so I wanted to keep it gray up front with the gray beard."
In the movie we get to see some of your dance moves at one point. Where did those come from?
"Well, I've always had those. I've always been a break dancer. When my father was teaching me how to play when I was a youngster, he said 'basketball is a game of rhythm and dancers have the greatest rhythm, so if you become a dancer first' ... I knew that Lynn Swann took ballet, and he was a professional football player. So I learned how to break dance. I didn't want to learn ballet, so break dancing is like basketball. One-two, one-two, one-two. So to answer your question, I've been dancing all my life."
Enjoy being in Miami?
"I've always loved the people in South Florida. I have a house here. I have a house in Orlando. Just like I told a person earlier, once an emperor stakes his claim, he never leaves."
Your son Shareef is about to get his college basketball career started. Have you given him any advice?
"I don't give him any advice because I tell him all the time we don't need more basketball players. We need engineers. We need doctors. We need lawyers. But he wants to play, so I tell him go out and have fun. Hopefully he can make something of himself. I've been very impressed with his progress. He works on everything by himself. He goes out. He shoots. I wish him well."
The talk of the NBA right now is LeBron James. Do you have any thoughts or predictions on where he ends up?