NBA legend Shaquille O’Neal shared an investment principle he heard from Amazon founder Jeff Bezos that he says has inspired his approach ever since.
“I was at a tech conference in Vegas and I heard the great Jeff Bezos say, ‘If you invest in things, you’ll change people’s lives,'” he recalled, speaking to CNBC’s Hadley Gamble in Abu. Dubai Sunday.
O’Neill added his ten cents: “Never think about the monetary aspect … it’s not important to me.”
“It’s basically based on one principle – belief. [Do] do you believe in the product? Will it change people’s lives? …This is it for me,” he added.
Since retiring from his 19-year basketball career in 2011, O’Neal has found success off the court.
The 50-year-old was an early investor in Google and has since amassed 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.
I can’t compete with Bezos
Just last week, the NBA Hall-Of-Famer said his investment inspiration “scared” him away from his plans to bid for ownership of the Phoenix Suns.
“You can’t compete with Jeff Bezos. I was very interested. My team was very interested,” he said.
Bezos is one of several billionaires reportedly considering a bid for the Suns, according to ESPN.
The Suns franchise is currently worth $1.8 billion and could be sold for at least $2.5 billion, according to a Forbes report.
When asked what ventures pique the basketball player-turned-investor’s interest, O’Neal admitted that he gets “a lot of [his] office every day.”
“Everybody wants a piece of you… And we reject most of it,” he said.
However, O’Neal added that the decision to inject capital usually takes place when a majority of his investment panels greenlight 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, again stressing that he doesn’t let the monetary side of things cloud his decisions.
Controversies surround the NBA in China
The controversy between China and the basketball league was sparked in 2019 when then-Houston Rockets executive Daryl Morey shared an image in support of pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong. The suspension led to a suspension of games and the withdrawal of Chinese companies from sponsorship by the league.
“I know in China, they really love basketball,” O’Neal said.
“And I also know that, despite what’s going on in the world, there are two things that will always calm people down – sports and music.”