The Wild Move Shaquille O'Neal Made With His Olympic Gold Medal

Back in 1996, Shaquille O'Neal became an Olympic gold medalist. Don't expect him to pull out the medal as a show-and-tell, though, because in a wild fit of anger, he tossed it from a moving car not long after receiving it. Drama!

O'Neal was famously part of the 1996 Dream Team (also known as Dream Team III, but more on that, later). As part of the team, O'Neal helped take the USA men's basketball team to victory at the Atlanta 1996 games. However, as he revealed in an April 2024 episode of "The Big Podcast with Shaq," he didn't believe he was given enough play time. Recounting the final game against Serbia and Montenegro, then Yugoslavia, O'Neal explained that the team's coach, Lenny Wilkens had warned him that he would be prioritizing David Robinson, as there was a good chance he'd be retiring soon after (he actually only ended up retiring in 2003, but we digress). O'Neal was fine with that ... until he realized he was only being called on in the game's final two minutes. 

Unsurprisingly, O'Neal wasn't thrilled. Au contraire, he went on to share that after the game had ended and the ceremony came to a close (we're not sure if he was referring to the Olympic Games' closing ceremony or just the medal ceremony), he left in a huff, and threw his medal out of the window on the way home. Not that O'Neal sees that as a tragic event in his life, though. 

Shaq's anger was a long time coming

It's worth noting that Shaquille O'Neal's decision to throw his Olympic gold medal out of his car's window wasn't based solely on Lenny Wilkens' decision to bring him on so late. Far from it, he explained on "The Big Podcast with Shaq" that there had been a number of things adding to his frustrations over the years. 

For starters, he pointed out that he'd already felt snubbed years prior when he wasn't selected for the original Dream Team for the 1992 Olympic Games in Albertville, France. Sure, he was selected for Dream Team II when the USA played at the 1994 FIBA World Cup, but he believed even that was to placate him, post-snub. "They wanted to appease me and put me on the '94 team, the World Games. We won that, then they put me on the Dream Team III," he explained, using air quotes the entire time. 

As for when he was chosen for the 1996 Olympic Games, O'Neal also added in the podcast that he didn't play much throughout the tournament, either. In fact, he mused that he got around 10 minutes of play time. And, no, he wasn't willing to accept that him being a relative newbie compared to some of the other players played a part in that. As he jokingly noted when his podcast guest, Kirk Cousins pointed out that he may have been a little young in 1992, "Doesn't matter ... I was still Shaq."

Shaq didn't go back for the medal, and he doesn't regret it

So, Shaquille O'Neal's anger had been bubbling up for a while by the time he threw his Olympic gold medal out of his car ... but did he cool down enough to go back for it? Yeah, that would be a no. 

While one might expect O'Neal to have tried to get his medal back, to say the NBA star was entirely unbothered would be an understatement. In fact, he didn't think anyone had ever even picked it up. Don't worry though, he doesn't wish he could go back and change anything. Close to 20 years after the fact, he quipped on "The Big Podcast with Shaq" that he has zero regrets over the situation. 

Of course, another reason for O'Neal being A-okay with tossing his Olympic medal is the fact that it didn't exactly ruin his career. Au contraire, O'Neal continues to be known as one of the greats, and he's even thought to be worth $500 million. Yes, half a billion dollars. As such, Shaq owns a whole collection of stupidly expensive things — and there's no doubt he could have an replica gold medal made for himself, if he so chose. However, something tells us he's proud to have stuck by his decision. Hey, when you know, you know.