Shaquille O’Neal weighs 341 pounds and carries 16.3% body fat, he said Sunday.
While he refused to concede that his feet would be more sound if he were lighter, O’Neal recently returned to daily weightlifting and a cardiovascular program that he believes could extend his career, or at least get him to the end of his contract.
He scored 24 points in his second game back from the injured list, a 20-point win against the Toronto Raptors, then soaked his aching feet in a tub of milk and ice. The milk relieves the burning brought by capsaicin, a cream that contains chili peppers. O’Neal has it rubbed on his feet before each game. He has been lively in two games back, in part because he feels better, and also because he has no choice but to play through the remaining discomfort.
“It’s a little bit of both,” he said. “Plus, my uncle Jerome [Crawford] told me four years ago, ‘When you get older, you have to work harder.’ I didn’t believe him then. Now I do.”
O’Neal will be 30 in March. His contract, which he occasionally hints he will not finish, is through 2005-06. He’ll earn $32.4 million in that final season, and he swears he’ll walk away if something keeps him from performing at his best.
“It’s not really affecting my play right now,” he said of his toes. “I don’t think about it.”
O’Neal played 38 minutes and has 66 minutes in his past two games.
“He’s really dedicated to losing that weight that would help that situation out,” Coach Phil Jackson said. “One of the things we do know is that the less weight that’s on that foot, the better off he’ll be.”
Asked how much O’Neal could lose, Jackson smiled.
“About a hundred ... " he said.