Shaquille O’Neal, a former NBA player, explained an investment philosophy he learned from Jeff Bezos, the creator of Amazon, which he claims has guided his strategy ever since.
“I was at a tech conference in Vegas and I heard the great Jeff Bezos say ‘If you invest in things, it’s going to change people’s lives,’ you will definitely get a nice return,” he recalled, speaking CNBC’s Hadley Gamble in Abu Dhabi Sunday.
O’Neal added his own ten cents: “Never think about the monetary aspect … it’s not important to me.”
“It’s basically based off one principle belief. Do you believe in the product? Is it gonna change people’s lives? … That’s what it is about for me,” he added.
Since retiring from his 19-year basketball career in 2011, O’Neal has seen success off the court.
The 50-year-old was an early investor in Google and has since accumulated a diverse portfolio, including investments in Apple, owning 17 Auntie Anne’s, 40 gyms and over a hundred Five Guys restaurants. He also founded his own fast food chain Big Chicken.
Can’t compete with Bezos
Just last week, the NBA Hall-Of-Famer said his investing inspiration had “scared” him away from his plans to make a bid for the ownership of the Phoenix Suns.
“You can’t compete with Jeff Bezos. I was very interested. My group was very interested,” he said.
Bezos is one of multiple billionaires reportedly considering a bid for the Suns, according to ESPN.
The Suns franchise is presently worth $1.8 billion and could sell for at least $2.5 billion, according to a Forbes report.
When asked about what investment projects pique the interest of the basketballer-turned-investor, O’Neal admitted that he gets “a lot of things on his desk every day.”
“Everybody wants a piece of you … And most of it we turn down,” he said.
However, O’Neal added that the decision to inject funds usually goes through when the majority of his investment panel greenlights an idea.
“You go to the panel first. If it goes to the panel and four out of five people like it, we do it,” he said, emphasizing again that he does not let the monetary aspect of things cloud his decisions.
Controversies surrounding NBA in China
When asked about the controversies about the NBA being in China, O’Neal admitted that it bothers him.
In March this year, NBA began broadcasting on China’s state-run TV network again after a ban of almost three years.
The dispute between China and the basketball league sparked in 2019, when then Houston Rockets executive Daryl Morey shared an image in support of pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong. The post led to games being pulled off air, and Chinese companies withdrawing sponsorship from the league.
“I know in China, they really love basketball,” O’Neal said.
“And I also know for a fact that, despite what’s going on in the world, there’s two things that will always calm people down sports and music.”