Shaquille O’Neal Explains Investment Strategy Into Ring, Esports Team NRG & ‘Shaq Fu’ Video Game

You’ve had your investments with pre-IPO Google, Five Guys, 24 Hour Fitness. Why did you get into esports? Why was that important for you?

I took my son to a tournament one time at Staples Center one time. He’s like, ‘dad, I want to go watch some kids play games.’ I’m like, ‘what are you talking about?’ So I took him to the Staples Center and it’s packed. So I dug into a little bit and found out what was going on and got with some partners. My partner was Sacramento Kings [owner] Vivek Ranadive. He got me involved in esports and we help start NRG. And we’ve been very, very successful.

There are people from traditional sports like Rick Fox and Mark Cuban who are in esports as owners as well. Why do you consider it a viable business plan and alternative?

The older I got, I realized that investments wise, if it’s going to change someone’s life and make them happy, it’s probably a good thing to invest in. Everytime I go to these shows, they are similar to NFL and NBA games. The amount of people in attendance at these functions is here to stay. I like how they rotate between shooting, fighting and racing games. It’s beautiful. You watch the passion that these kids play with. Esports is here to stay.

What are you hoping to learn from someone like Andy Miller, who brings vision and background from a traditional company?  

Dwight Eisenhower said, ‘the greatest leaders are the ones who are happy to have people who are smarter around them.’ Andy Miller is a brilliant guy. A lot of times he’s the one that can foresee the vision, and we as partners we just either go with or not. Whenever Andy does something, I’m always in.

Esports is catered to a digital native audience. How are you going to use your personal brand and platform to market your presence in the space?

Anytime I can promote the sport, I will. I have a large social media following. Anytime I can let people know what’s going on in the esports culture, I’m happy to do that

You’ve played in some tournaments as well like Street Fighter and League of Legends.

I got killed by the beautiful WWE diva Natalie. But I beat her before too.

You’ve had your own video game in the past. What kind of presence do you want to play in video games moving forward.

My Shaq Fu 2 is coming out. Shaq Fu 1 was so terrible it became a cult classic.

Your famous for your personality and character and that also helps you broker deals as a businessman, too. How are you looking to evolve in emerging spaces moving forward?

I just look for companies who want to change people’s lives, better people’s lives and that’s how I’ve been investing for the last 10-to-15 years, and it’s been damn near perfect. Every time I go in and try to make a quick buck, it never happens like that. For example, Ring. Everybody needs home security. A digital doorbell for your phone. I think that was a great investment for me.

You work with a lot of brands. Kobe, for example, when I had a conversation with him, he’s talking about going into the Nike boardroom and talking to the marketers and creatives. How do you heighten the marketing?

I’ve always been the marketer and creator. I’ve always had the ability and access to create all of my own spots. When you deal with the Shaq brand, you’re dealing with a brand that’s promoting fun. Every spot that I do has a fun aspect to it.

If you can give one advice to brands and marketers, what would it be?

I wouldn’t give them any advice. To each his own. I just know that my formula has always worked for me. With so much going on in the world today, at the end of the spot, I want to see somebody laugh.

1995 freestyle

The start of the school year, the beginning of football season and my latest project sparked me to share a story that’s 20 years in the making.

My father and I would always have lunch during summer vacations. He’d buy a variety of Armenian newspapers to read and give me loose change so I can run to a newsstand and buy a copy of the L.A. Times to have something to read too.

We wouldn’t talk much while eating; it was strictly reading — and each of us hogging for table space to comfortably spread our papers.

This is how it was as far back as fifth grade, when I’d think to myself, “One day I’ll be writing stories for the L.A. Times.”

I’d always keep the Sports section, read every word, and throw away the rest of the paper. This would continue throughout high school, where I’d hide the paper under my math book and read that instead. My friends always knew who to ask for the latest news on the Lakers and Dodgers.

I’d even save particular papers featuring “memorable moments,” a sentimental collection still tucked away in the garage today. By the end of college, my dreams didn’t seem too farfetched as the papers I continued saving started featuring my own reporting and writing.

Although I’ve been at the L.A. Times for a while now, it’s still surreal to see my name on projects.

Today felt like one of the hot summer nights of 1995.

Here’s my latest L.A. Times story featuring an interview I did with Colts quarterback Andrew Luck.

Read Here


What is the world saying about the Armenian Genocide?

(Katie Couric explains the Armenian Genocide in the video above.)

The overwhelming and unprecedented international attention, compassion and acknowledgment Armenians have received in regard to the Genocide in recent weeks is incredible.

The entire world is discussing the Genocide of over 1.5 million Armenian men, women and children. As we approach the centennial commemoration – April 24, 1915 is the Red Sunday when Ottoman authorities gathered some 250 Armenian intellectuals and leaders in Constantinople to eventually murder them — a Who’s Who of modern-day, socially conscious luminaries have gone on the record and opened the discussion about one of the darkest chapters in world history.

The Ottoman Empire’s systematic killing and attempted ethnic cleanse — the stories and images too common and too dark — of Armenians was the first Genocide of the 20th century. It was a fact Pope Francis further cemented earlier this month.

Over 130,000 in Los Angeles alone — as well as other corners of the world — marched for justice. Los Angeles city officials said it was the second-largest public gathering in L.A. history.


Highlights from public figures and international media outlets from recent weeks:

As Senator, on April 12, 2007, Barack Obama said, “for those of you who are not aware, there was a Genocide that did take place against the Armenian people. It is one of these situations where we have seen a constant denial on the part of the Turkish government.”

Obama said in a statement on Jan. 19, 2008: “The Armenian genocide is not an allegation, a personal opinion or a point of view, but rather a widely documented fact.”

Here is Obama’s statement from 2015.

“Turkey has never accepted the term genocide, even though historians have demolished its denial of responsibility for up to 1.5 million deaths.”
The Guardian.

Pope Francis commemorated the 100th anniversary of the Genocide on April 12 by labeling the massacres as the “first genocide of the 20th century” and invited the two Catholicoi at the top of the Armenian Apostolic Church’s hierarchy to frankly speak as well.

Turkish officials did not accept the dark truth. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and other Turkish officials sharply criticized Pope Francis.

It wasn’t the first time a Turk was unhappy with the Pope, as evidenced in 1981 when one tried to kill Pope John Paul II.

Eerily similar to the Holocaust — and quite frankly setting up the blueprint for Hitler — the Armenian Genocide is a human rights issue that concerns non-Armenians alike. That is why UFC champion Ronda Rousey was in Armenia on April 24 to commemorate the centennial. Hollywood icons Cher — one of the most famous Armenians in the world as documented here in her 1993 relief efforts — George and Amal Clooney, Hugh Grant, Bill Belichick, Mia Farrow, Rob Lowe, Joe Manganiello, Tom Morello, Martina Navratilova, Lupe Fiasco, The Game, Dan Bilzerian and Katt Williams — among countless others — have all recently took turns condemning the acts too.

Sarkis Teke is the last living native Armenian in a Turkish city of Kayseri that was once full of them. “All my life I’ve fought to stay here, and I’ve paid a heavy price,” he says. Friday marks the 100th anniversary of the day that Ottoman authorities began rounding up ethnic Armenian intellectuals and community leaders in Istanbul, then known to Christians as Constantinople. By the end of 1915, the splintering empire’s minority Armenian communities were wiped out. Turkey still disputes any suggestion that Ottoman forces committed genocide in 1915, saying the deaths occurred as part of war in which Turks were also killed by Armenians. But most independent scholars have described it as genocide, however, and more than 20 nations have formally recognized it as such. Learn more by tapping the link in our profile. (Photo: @moniquejaques for @wsj)

A photo posted by Wall Street Journal (@wsj) on

George Clooney joined the launch of The 100 Lives initiative to commemorate Genocide with Ruben Vardanian in March. Clooney’s said it’s his goal “to focus global attention on the impact of genocide as well as putting resources toward ending mass atrocities around the world.” Clooney’s wife Amal, an international human rights lawyer, spoke on behalf of Armenia at the European Court of Human Rights in regard to genocide denial in January.

Newspaper Asbarez recapped Clooney’s remarks:

In her arguments Clooney highlighted Turkey’s hypocrisy for defending the Right to Freedom of Speech in Europe, while at the same time Hrant Dink is murdered in Istanbul, and the same anti-Armenian sentiments of a 100 years ago are still alive in the country.

Clooney went on to accuse the court of being “simply wrong. It [the court] casts doubt on the reality of Genocide that Armenian people suffered a century ago.”
“Armenia must have its day in court,” she added. “The stakes could not be higher for the Armenian people.”

In her presentation, Clooney pointed out Turkey’s double standards on freedom of expression, when the country has been notorious in suppressing speech, jailing journalists and event going as far as to ban social media platforms such as YouTube and Twitter.

“Armenia is not here to argue against freedom of expression any more than Turkey is here to defend it. This court knows very well how disgraceful Turkey’s record on freedom of expression is,” she said. “You have found against the Turkish government in 224 separate cases on freedom of expression grounds.”

” … There were 2 million Armenians. Just a few short years later, there were only 400,000 left.

“The Turkish government spends millions and millions of dollars every single year using their clout to lobby against anyone in the world pushing a bill to recognize it. Apparently their clout is significant because even the United States of America hasn’t officially recognized it yet,” said political commentator Glenn Beck, who pondered “are we seeing history repeat itself?”

“Voices from Armenia’s past, 100 years after massacre” — BBC

Comedian Katt Williams was more straightforward with his remarks.

The message is clear in every language. Athletes David Nalbandian, Jose Meolans, Juan Carlos Olave, José Palazzo and Carlos Hairabedian call on the world to recognize the Armenian Genocide. (Video in Spanish)

UFC stars Randy Couture, Quinton “Rampage” Jackson and Gegard Mousasi call for recognition.

System of a Down, a group of Armenian rock musicians, have always put the cause at the forefront of their music, as evidenced with their international Wake Up the Souls tour that culminated in Yerevan’s Republic Square on April 23 with a riveting (and free) two-hour show.

The world had an unfiltered front-row seat to Kim and Khloe Kardashian (arguably the most-famous Armenians in the world) and Kanye West’s excursion to Armenia this April that was documented and dissected by every media outlet. More importantly, it brought awareness to a century-long cause and enlightened an entirely new audience to Armenia’s rich history and culture.

The climactic moment featured Kanye West perform a free impromptu concert in Yerevan and jump in a lake to frenzied fans.

For every Kardashian, there are millions of other Armenian families with a story that embodies resilience.

It’s time for Turkey to recognize and admit there was an Armenian Genocide.

BREAKING NEWS: Manouk Akopyan joins Instagram


Gourmet lunch on deck. #GetOnMyLevel #Blessed #GodIsGood #NoFilter

View on Instagram

I’ve succumbed to peer pressure. I’ve finally joined Instagram.

This immediately ranks as one of Mankind’s greatest accomplishments. Move over Moses parting the Red Sea. There’s a new miracle bestowed upon thou.

I’ve long been an activist against social media and how it represents all of the exaggerated and hollow beings in society. Some know how to do it right. Others fail miserably, and I loathe them.

But over the course of the last year, many of my family and friends have reacted as if I have Ebola once they learn I don’t have Instagram. I’ve spent countless nights shamed in dark corners knowing that I couldn’t be tagged in a picture.

Well, those days are all in the past. Hopefully Ebola will be, too. I’m relinquishing all rights to my privacy. … Welcome to the “Fabulous Life of Manouk Akopyan!”

Robin Leach wasn’t available to narrate this, so I ask that you please read a preview of what to expect in his voice:

–> My exorbitant and epic lifestyle. It’s pretty insane. I hope you can keep up. I just thank #God that I am so #blessed to enjoy every second of it. Now you will too, whether you like it or not. As a matter of fact you should like it. After all, that’s why I posted it for in the first place.

–> For all of you to finally meet my Playmate friends. Not you, dad.

–> Hashtags. Lots of them. Most of them blasphemous because being a pretentious douchebag is what I’ve always strived to be in life. #Blessed.

–> The latest happenings in my career. Name a better outlet for a writer than Instagram. I thought so. Read on.

–> My quintessential photography skills. What better way to realize that I am more talented than I actually thought so that I can launch my postcard business. #CEO #PictureSaysAThousandWords #NoFilter

–> Show off more filters than a coffee shop and offer more collages than a Picasso garage sale. #Masterpiece

–> Selfies from the gym, because is a workout really a workout if you don’t know about it? Sweat-soaked shirts available upon special request. Pouty lips optional.

–> Sporadically post pictures of breakfast, lunch, dinner, but not necessarily in that order. Nothing will get you through your day quite like seeing me power through mine with blueberry oatmeal.

–> Random things that I am doing, like driving, and all of a sudden be like “hey checkout out this amazing #sunset.”

–> Screenshots of inspirational quotes that I Googled just so I can remain relevant on your timeline. Trust me, I don’t know who Sophocles is either.

–> A repository of memes. I will be the second coming of iFunny. iPromise.

–> Subtly show off my material possessions, because I am too #humble and #blessed to do so outright.

–> Periodic postings of ATM slips because I’m about that #RichKidsofInstagram life. #BankOfAmericaAccountGotThreeFigures

–> Lots of Throwback Thursdays and Flashback Fridays because what good is my life, or yours for that matter, if we continually can’t live in the past?

–> Pictures of my nephews and nieces. Since I don’t have kids, that’s all you get – for now. Slide up in my DMs and that could change.

–> My eclectic taste for music. Think of me as your personal Shazaam. Or better yet just think of me because that’s why I posted the Pandora screenshot anyway.

Thanks for reading. Lets love to loathe each other. #Blessed

Michael Jordan’s 49 point game as a no-name hack in a No. 12 jersey

Next time you want to call Michael Jordan a no-name hack, well, you can, because M.J. once played a game with a No. 12 Chicago Bulls jersey without his name on the back.

It very well could be His Airness’ most under-reported feat of all-time.

Ninety minutes before tipoff of a 1990 Valentine’s Day game against the Orlando Magic, Jordan’s uniform was stolen. As the story goes, Jordan scrambled to find a jersey, going as far as trying on one young fan’s replica. After realizing it made him look like Karl Malone in one of his smedium ensembles, he opted for the alternative: a generic jersey.

Jordan, was well, Jordan, dropping 49 in an overtime loss and easily becoming the best player to ever don the No. 12.

Tom Brady. Terry Bradshaw. Joe Namath. Sorry. You and your eight Super Bowl victories don’t even come close.

But back to the thief. Kudos to you. I hope he/she gifted it their lover and made it the most authentic gift on the fakest of holidays. It edges out the Romance Kit from Adam & Eve – barely.

Jordan’s known to have worn a few jerseys, and this made me curious: What are his career-high for points in each of the jerseys he’s ever worn? Here we go:

No. 9: Team USA – 24 points

No. 12: Chicago Bulls – 49 points

No. 23: Laney High School – 42 points

No. 23: North Carolina – 39 points

No. 23: Chicago Bulls – 69 points

No. 23: All-Star Game – 40 points

No. 23: Washington Wizards – 51 points

No. 45: Chicago Bulls – 55 points

No. 45: Birmingham Barons – 127 G, .202 BA, 3 HR, 51 RBIs, 30 SB, 11 E, 114 K

No. 53: Team USA – ? points (1984 U.S. men’s basketball team trials in Bloomington, Indiana.)

… And then there is this guy, who will wear Jordan on his back until the day he dies.