Saturday , Jun , 25 , 2005 C.Y. Ellis

Big Graduate: Shaq gets MBA

Los Angeles, CA (Sports Network) – Miami Heat All-Star center Shaquille O’Neal
added another award to his mantle Saturday as he received his master’s in
business administration degree.

O’Neal was one of the 2,200 University of Phoenix graduates honored at the
Forum in Los Angeles.

“It’s just something to have on my resume when I go back into reality,” O’Neal
said. “Someday I might have to put down a basketball and have a regular 9-to-5
like everybody else.”

O’Neal, who was in his first season with the Heat, returned to the city where
he spent eight years and won three NBA titles. O’Neal played with the Lakers
from 1996-2004 before his blockbuster trade to Miami this past offseason.

The 7-1 center went to LSU, but left school early to pursue an NBA career.
However, O’Neal promised his family that he would graduate, which he did in
2000, and also said he would eventually receive an MBA.

O’Neal took a majority of his classes online and also attended many sessions
several days a week at a West Los Angeles campus before he was traded to South
Florida.

“The degree solidifies that I’m a businessman,” said O’Neal.

This past season, O’Neal averaged 22.9 points and 10.4 rebounds while leading
the Heat to the top record in the Eastern Conference. Miami eventually lost
in the conference finals to the Detroit Pistons.

O’Neal, a three-time Finals MVP and the 1999-2000 regular-season Most Valuable
Player, has posted averages of 26.7 points, 12 boards and 2.8 assists in his
Hall-of-Fame career.

MIA