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“He Paid the Fine”: When Shaquille O’Neal’s HC Defied NBA Regulations to Keep Star Away From Infamous Spring Break Party

Abhishek Dhariwal

"He Paid the Fine": When Shaquille O'Neal's HC Defied NBA Regulations to Keep Star Away From Infamous Spring Break Party

As dominant as he was on the floor, Shaquille O’Neal sure knew how to turn it up when it was time to let his hair down. Shaq was known to hang out and party with rappers when he came to LA. But even before that, The Big Aristotle was often the engine that kept the party going, at least for his friends and himself. No wonder why the then-head coach of the Magic was willing to pay a hefty fine, only to prevent O’Neal from getting wasted.

Back in 2011, Shaquille O’Neal revealed a ritual of sorts in his book, Shaq: Uncut where a few players on the Orlando Magic squad tended to make the most of their road trips to Atlanta to play the Hawks.

The team’s road games against the Hawks coincidentally fell on weekends when the Freaknik would be taking place. Freaknik was equivalent to a spring break party in Atlanta, hosted by Buckhead for other African-American dominant colleges.

Shaquille O’Neal, along with Dennis Scott and a few other teammates, always made sure to participate. As a result, the players would then go down with Buckhead flu’, due to their excessive partying the previous night.

This always resulted in Brian Hill, the head coach of the Orlando Magic at the time, losing his cool. Hill even went so far as to break league rules by flying into Atlanta the same day as their game, instead of traveling to the city the night before. Hill was fined for not following NBA regulations. However, that did not bother him at all as he happily took the fine.

“Somehow it just worked out that when we played Atlanta it always hit on the weekend of Freaknik, this big spring break party they had in Buckhead with students from all of the black colleges. It was party city, and me and DScott and the guys always made certain we participated. What that meant was when it came time to play the Hawks a lot of us were suffering from the “Buckhead flu.” Brian Hill got so upset he told us, “I’m never taking you guys to Atlanta the night before the game again. From now on we’re flying in on the same day.” NBA regulations require you to fly into the city the night before the game, but he didn’t care. He paid the fine rather than give us another crack at Freaknik.” – Shaq: Uncut

Sneaking out of the hotel room to party in another city sure sounds like something that Shaquille O’Neal must’ve come up with. And while it may seem fine from Shaq’s perspective, the feelings were not the same for the Magic’s head coach.

No coach in the world would want his best player on the court to underperform, especially due to being too lethargic and hungover from partying excessively the previous night. So, while the other players gave it their all on the floor, Shaq wasn’t even able to run up & down the court.

What compelled Shaquille O’Neal’s coach to do so?


The Freaknik event was never created in a manner to compete with or become the Springbreak party of the East Coast. The whole ordeal was originally a picnic that was started off by a few African-American students.

But over time, the group increased from a handful to a big chunk before those very same picnics turned into full-fledged parties. The parties were epic as they even ended up attracting professional athletes. 

But back in 2010, the Mayor of Atlanta had to put a stop to Freaknik due to the damage and effect it was having on the city after the fest’s celebrations were over. That said, though the fest may be in the history books now, Shaquille O’Neal and Co. sure made the most of it.

Post Edited By:Tonoy Sengupta

About the author

Abhishek Dhariwal

Abhishek Dhariwal


A fan of the sport since the late 2000s, Abhishek has been covering the game of basketball for the past five years now. Having done his masters in Journalism and Mass Communication, Abhishek prides himself in being referred to as a sports journalist at The SportsRush. A fan of the San Antonio Spurs since the Tim Duncan era, Abhishek has an extensive knowledge of the sport and has covered more than 1500 articles. Having a firsthand experience of the sport, Abhishek has represented his city and state at a district and national level. And it is the same level of expertise he aims to bring while covering extensive topics both on and off the court of your favorite basketball stars.

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