Shaquille O'Neal is one of the greatest centers — and great big men — in NBA history. He's also a great big fan of video games. He grew up playing the classics, like Nintendo's Super Mario Bros., and now he's getting into gaming in a whole new way. Literally.
Nintendo's latest game for the 3DS and 2DS systems Tomodachi Life hit stores last week. It's sort of like Sim City, except you populate the Tomodachi world with your Mii character and the Miis of your friends and family. You can also control celebrity Miis, like Shaun White, Christina Aguilera — and Shaq!
"I love it," Shaq says of the game. "My favorite part of the game is that you get to create your characters and interact with each other in crazy ways."
To get the Shaq Mii, you have to scan a QR code that allows you to download him into your game. But while you're interacting with Mii Shaq and putting him in outrageous outfits, real-life Shaq has his attention on another game — at least for right now.
He's an TV analyst covering the NBA Finals. Shaq is a four-time NBA champion, winning three titles with the Los Angeles Lakers and one with the Miami Heat. He remembers that during his playing days, he was driven by what people on TV were saying about his play.
"I always wanted to be one of the best bigs ever," he says. "So I would find some criticism and turn it into motivation. I used to watch TNT and when the analysts said I couldn't do something, then I had to go out and do it."
Now, the roles are reversed. Shaq is on TNT talking about how LeBron James, Tim Duncan, and his former teammate Dwyane Wade are playing. And even though he's friends with D-Wade — and won a title in Miami in 2006 — he's not bringing out the pom-poms to root for his old team against the Spurs. Shaq is staying neutral.
"Both teams are chasing history," he says. "The Spurs would like to be called a dynasty and the Heat would like to be called a dynasty. I think it's the first time since the Lakers and Celtics played that there are two powerhouses going at it."
Last year's Heat-Spurs Final was an epic seven-game slugfest, and this year's is shaping up to be the same. But don't worry. If things get too intense, you can always head into your Tomodachi world and challenge relax with Mii Shaq.
Visit the Nintendo website for more information on Tomodachi Life and Mii Shaq!
Photos: Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images, Nintendo