Shaquille O’Neal explains why he threw his 1996 Olympic gold-winning medal out of a car window

Francis Akhalbey April 05, 2024
Shaquille O'Neal said he threw his Olympic gold-winning medal away -- Photo via @shaq on Instagram

Shaquille O’Neal won a gold medal with the United States men’s basketball team at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. But the Hall of Famer in a recent episode of his The Big Podcast with Shaq said he threw his gold medal out of a car window because of something he took issue with during their final game.

Known as the Dream Team III, the 1996 United States men’s Olympic basketball team’s roster included the likes of O’Neal, Grant Hill, and Reggie Miller. Others included the 1992 Olympic Dream Team players – Charles Barkley, Karl Malone, Scottie Pippen, John Stockton, and David Robinson. 

O’Neal, 52, stated that he threw his gold medal away out of anger, adding that it happened after the award ceremony. “The Olympic games, ‘96, I played throughout, helped them come back, win games,” the former Los Angeles Lakers star said, per PEOPLE.

“And in the gold medal game, [coach] Lenny Wilkens says, ‘Hey this is probably David Robinson’s last game, so he’s gonna get more minutes.’ I said ‘Cool.’”

He added: “But he didn’t play me at all until like the last two minutes. I was so pissed off, after the ceremony, I drove home in my uniform and I threw the goddamn medal out the window on I-75.”

As to whether the medal has been found, O’Neal, who represented the United States Olympic basketball team just once, told co-host Adam Lefkoe that he feels that is not the case. 

“I went like this [O’Neal motions as if he is ripping the medal off his neck] and threw it out the window,” the NBA champion recalled. “I was so mad.”

O’Neal has in the past opened up about his anger issues and how he has struggled when it comes to suppressing it. “After a bad game, especially if it was my fault, missed my free throws, I’d go crazy,” he told PEOPLE in 2022. “I’d tear the house up. I was the Hulk.”

Despite those issues, anyone who follows the retired basketball legend knows how big of a heart he has, and this is evident through his charitable endeavors. In 2023, Face2Face Africa reported that O’neal gifted a random woman a brand new $1,200 Samsung Galaxy Z Flip phone at a store in Louisiana.

Today.com also reported about a time when O’Neal decided to make the day of a random stranger he met at a jewelry store by paying off the engagement ring he had put on layaway. He defended his act, saying, “Don’t worry about it. I do it all the time. I’m just trying to make people smile. That’s all.”

Apart from his many random acts of kindness, O’Neal supports several charitable organizations, like the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, the Make-A-Wish Foundation, Feed the Children, the Special Olympics, and his own foundation, the Shaquille O’Neal Foundation, which he founded to support various causes, including education, healthcare, and underserved communities.

Last Edited by:Mildred Europa Taylor Updated: April 5, 2024

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