Shaq on entering esports: 'The fan base is huge and so passionate about their favorite games, teams and players'

by theScore Staff Sep 22 2016
Thumbnail image courtesy of Kim Klement / Shaq Vertical / Action Images

While there is a number of differences separating basketball and CS:GO, Shaquille O'Neal said in an interview with The Red Bulletin's John Gaudiosi that there is one big commonality between the two.

"Teamwork," Shaq said. "Five guys working together, practicing together, trusting your brother. That’s what makes a winner. It’s a grind. It takes big time dedication to be the best and build a winner."

Shaq is one of the investors in NRG eSports, which competes in several esports including LoL and CS:GO. According to Shaq, he hovered around the scene for several years before jumping headfirst into it and investing after watching ELEAGUE Road to Vegas at CES 2016.

"I have been in and around the gaming space for years now," Shaq said. "I got to witness first-hand at CES this year how exciting the CS:GO world had become and how passionate the fans were and what type of dedicated athletes the players had become. I wanted in. I contacted Andy Miller who co-owns the Sacramento Kings with me and he asked me to become part of NRG eSports. I am totally digging how intense the CS:GO and League of Legends scene is and am excited for our plans to add many more teams and gaming personalities to the NRG mix."

"The fans did it for me," Shaq continued. "The fan base is huge and so passionate about their favorite games, teams and players. We have seen this movie before with the NBA and other traditional sports leagues. Sponsors and distribution always follow."

Shaq is not the only NBA star to invest into esports, with Rick Fox, Jeremy Lin and Jonas Jerebko endorsing or investing into esports teams and organizations.

Shaq also reserved some words for brands that haven't entered esports yet.

"Let’s go," Shaq said. "The millennial audience is here. The accessibility to the fan is unprecedented. Everybody games. It’s a natural."

Preston Dozsa is a news editor for theScore esports. You can follow him on Twitter.