A FRIEND reports that her teenage son, a reluctant reader, devoured ``Shaq Attaq!,'' the autobiography of basketball star Shaquille O'Neal (Hyperion, 202 pp., $22.95). Some people may have already seen, heard, and read enough about O'Neal, perhaps history's most overexposed athlete. Nevertheless, dipping into Shaq's book proves that given a good writer to work with - Sports Illustrated's Jack McCallum - even the most familiar sports figure can make for interesting reading.
O'Neal on the subject of giving autographs is revealing. If he has the time, he'll accommodate fans, but he has a strategy for foiling those who only want his signature so they can sell it. He personalizes the autograph by getting the person's name and scribbling something like ``To Billy, From Shaquille.'' This ruins its appeal to trading-card shops.
Autograph requests can get out of hand, and an experience last season when he was besieged by requests during a pregame shoot around persuaded O'Neal to forgo informal warmups.
Postgraduate achievers saluted
While various issues brought contentiousness to last week's National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) convention in San Antonio, the delegates could overlook their differences in applauding the association's six Silver Anniversary Award recipients. These are individuals who distinguished themselves as college athletes 25 years ago and today are achievers in other endeavors.
Most prominent among them is Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who led UCLA to three consecutive NCAA basketball titles before a 20-year professional career. Recently he produced ``The Vernon Johns Story,'' a syndicated TV movie chronicling the life of the minister and civil rights leader.
Joining Abdul-Jabbar in the NCAA spotlight were:
* Calvin Hill, Yale University running back and pro football star, now a major-league baseball executive with the Baltimore Orioles.
* Lee Evans, sprinter at San Jose State University and Olympic champion, now director of the Madagascar Project, an assistance program in the village of Vohitsaoke, Qatar.
* Leroy Keyes, an All-American running back at Purdue University, now desegregation specialist with the Philadelphia School District and a counselor to young offenders.
* William Hurd, a sprinter who was Notre Dame's first nonfootball athlete of the year, as selected by the student body, now an ophthalmologist in Memphis, Tenn.
* Jim Ryun, champion miler at the University of Kansas, now a youth pastor for the Full Faith Church of Love West in Shawnee, Kan.
Because the Silver Anniversary honorees, by definition, graduated 25 years ago, few women have yet been recognized. The four who have been honored, all within the last seven years, are track stars Wilma Rudolph, Edith McGuire Duvall, and Wyomia Tyus, and softball great Donna Lopiano, now the executive director of the Women's Sports Foundation.