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Shaquille O'Neal

 

shaq_thumb  Shaquille O'Neal

 

Shaquille Rashaun O'Neal (play /ʃəˈkl/ shə-KEEL; born March 6, 1972), nicknamed "Shaq" (play /ˈʃæk/ SHAK), is a retired American basketball player and current analyst on the television program Inside the NBA. Standing 7 ft 1 in (2.16 m) tall and weighing 325 pounds (147 kg), he was one of the heaviest players ever to play in the NBA. Throughout his 19-year career, O'Neal used his size and strength to overpower opponents for points and rebounds.

Following his career at Louisiana State University, O'Neal was drafted by the Orlando Magic with the first overall pick in the 1992 NBA Draft. He quickly became one of the top centers in the league, winning Rookie of the Year in 1992–93 and later leading his team to the 1995 NBA Finals. After four years with the Magic, O'Neal signed as a free agent with the Los Angeles Lakers. He won three consecutive championships in 2000, 2001, and 2002. Amid tension between O'Neal and Kobe Bryant, O'Neal was traded to the Miami Heat in 2004, and his fourth NBA championship followed in 2006. Midway through the 2007–2008 season he was traded to the Phoenix Suns. After a season-and-a-half with the Suns, O'Neal was traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 2009–10 season.[1] O'Neal played for the Boston Celtics in the 2010–11 season before retiring.[2]

O'Neal's individual accolades include the 1999–2000 MVP award, the 1992–93 NBA Rookie of the Year award, 15 All-Star game selections, three All-Star Game MVP awards, three Finals MVP awards, two scoring titles, 14 All-NBA team selections, and three NBA All-Defensive Team selections. He is one of only three players to win NBA MVP, All-Star game MVP and Finals MVP awards in the same year (2000); the other players are Willis Reed in 1970 and Michael Jordan in 1996 and 1998. He ranks 6th all-time in points scored, 5th in field goals, 13th in rebounds, and 7th in blocks.[3]

In addition to his basketball career, O'Neal has released four rap albums, with his first, Shaq Diesel, going platinum. He has appeared in numerous films and has starred in his own reality shows, Shaq's Big Challenge and Shaq Vs..

 

NBA career

Orlando Magic (1992–1996)

The Orlando Magic drafted O'Neal with the 1st overall pick in the 1992 NBA Draft. During that summer, prior to moving to Orlando, he spent a significant amount of time in Los Angeles under the tutelage of Hall of Famer Magic Johnson[citation needed]. During his rookie season, O'Neal averaged 23.4 points on 56.2% shooting, 13.9 rebounds, and 3.5 blocks per game for the season. He was named the 1993 NBA Rookie of the Year and became the first rookie to be voted an All-Star starter since Michael Jordan in 1985.[12] The Magic finished 41–41, winning 20 more games than the previous season; however, the team ultimately missed the playoffs by virtue of a tie-breaker with the Indiana Pacers. On more than one occasion during the year, Sports Illustrated writer Jack McCallum overheard O'Neal saying, "We've got to get [head coach] Matty [Guokas] out of here and bring in [assistant] Brian [Hill]."[13]

In O'Neal's second season, Hill was the coach and Guokas was reassigned to the front office.[14] O'Neal improved his scoring average to 29.4 points (second in the league to David Robinson) while leading the NBA in field goal percentage at 60%. On November 20, 1993, against the New Jersey Nets, O'Neal registered the first triple-double of his career, recording 24 points to go along with career highs of 28 rebounds and 15 blocks.[15] He was voted into the All-Star game and also made the All-NBA 3rd Team. Teamed with newly drafted Anfernee "Penny" Hardaway, the Magic finished with a record of 50–32 and made the playoffs for the first time in franchise history. In his first playoff series, O'Neal averaged 20.7 points and 13.3 rebounds in a losing effort as the Magic lost every game to the Indiana Pacers.

In his third season, O'Neal's 29.3 point average led the NBA in scoring. He finished second in MVP voting to David Robinson and was voted into his third straight All-Star Game along with Hardaway. They formed one of the league's top duos and helped Orlando to a 57–25 record and the Atlantic Division crown. The Magic won their first ever playoff series against the Boston Celtics in the 1995 NBA Playoffs. They then defeated the Chicago Bulls in the conference semi-finals. After beating Reggie Miller's Indiana Pacers, the Magic reached the NBA Finals, facing the defending NBA champion Houston Rockets. O'Neal played well in his first Finals appearance, averaging 28 points on 59.5% shooting, 12.5 rebounds, and 6.3 assists. Despite this, the Rockets, led by future Hall-of-Famers Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler, swept the series in four games.

O'Neal was injured for a great deal of the 1995–96 season, missing 28 games. He averaged 26.6 points and 11 rebounds per game, made the All-NBA 3rd Team, and played in his 4th All-Star Game. Despite O'Neal's injuries, the Magic finished with a regular season record of 60–22, second in the Eastern conference to the Chicago Bulls, who finished with an NBA record 72 wins. Orlando easily defeated the Detroit Pistons and the Atlanta Hawks in the first two rounds of the 1996 NBA Playoffs; however, they were no match for Jordan's Bulls, who swept them in the Eastern Conference Finals.

Los Angeles Lakers (1996–2004)

In 8 seasons with the Los Angeles Lakers (1996-2004), O'Neal won three consecutive championships from 2000 to 2002 and appeared in the 2004 NBA Finals.

O'Neal became a free agent after the 95–96 NBA season. In the summer of 1996, O'Neal was named to the United States Olympic basketball team, and was later part of the gold medal-winning team at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta. While the Olympic basketball team was training in Orlando, the Orlando Sentinel published a poll that asked whether the Magic should fire Hill if that were one of O'Neal's conditions for returning.[16][17] 82% answered "no".[16] O'Neal had a power struggle while playing under Hill.[18][19] He said the team "just didn't respect [Hill]."[20] Another question in the poll asked, "Is Shaq worth id="mce_marker"15 million?" in reference to the amount of the Magic's offer. 91.3% of the response was "no".[17][18] O'Neal's Olympic teammates rode him hard over the poll.[17][19] He was also upset that the Orlando media implied O'Neal was not a good role model for having a child with his longtime girlfriend with no immediate plans to marry.[16] O'Neal compared his lack of privacy in Orlando to "feeling like a big fish in a dried-up pond."[21] O'Neal also learned that Hardaway considered himself the leader of the Magic and did not want O'Neal making more money than him.[22] On the team's first full day at the Olympics in Atlanta, it was announced that O'Neal would join the Los Angeles Lakers on a seven-year, id="mce_marker"21 million contract.[23][24] He insisted he did not choose Los Angeles for the money. "I'm tired of hearing about money, money, money, money, money," O'Neal said after the signing. "I just want to play the game, drink Pepsi, wear Reebok," he added, referring to a couple of his product endorsements.[25][26] The Lakers won 56 games during the 1996–97 season. O'Neal averaged 26.2 points and 12.5 rebounds in his first season with Los Angeles; however, he again missed over 30 games due to injury. The Lakers made the playoffs, but were eliminated in the second round by the Utah Jazz in five games.[27] On December 17, 1996, O'Neal shoved Dennis Rodman of the Chicago Bulls; Rodman's teammates Scottie Pippen and Michael Jordan restrained Rodman and prevented further conflict. The Los Angeles Daily News reported that O'Neal was willing to be suspended for fighting Rodman, and O'Neal said: "It's one thing to talk tough and one thing to be tough."[28]

The following season, O'Neal averaged 28.3 points and 11.4 rebounds. He also led the league with a 58.4 field goal percentage, the first of five consecutive seasons in which he did so. The Lakers finished the season 61–21, first in the Pacific Division, and were the second seed in the western conference during the 1998 NBA Playoffs. After defeating the Portland Trail Blazers and Seattle SuperSonics in the first two rounds, the Lakers again fell to the Jazz, this time in a 4–0 sweep.[citation needed]

With the tandem of O'Neal and teenage superstar Kobe Bryant, expectations for the Lakers increased. However, personnel changes were a source of instability during the 1998–99 season. Long-time Laker point guard Nick Van Exel was traded to the Denver Nuggets; his former backcourt partner Eddie Jones was packaged with back-up center Elden Campbell for Glen Rice to satisfy a demand by O'Neal for a shooter. Coach Del Harris was fired, and former Lakers forward Kurt Rambis finished the season as head coach. The Lakers finished with a 31–19 record during the lockout-shortened season. Although they made the playoffs, they were swept by the San Antonio Spurs, led by Tim Duncan and David Robinson in the second round of the Western Conference playoffs. The Spurs would go on to win their first NBA title that year.[citation needed]

Championship seasons

In 1999, the Lakers hired Phil Jackson as head coach, and the team's fortunes soon changed. Jackson immediately challenged O'Neal, telling him "the [NBA's] MVP trophy should be named after him when he retired."[29] Using Jackson's triangle offense, O'Neal and Bryant enjoyed tremendous success, leading the Lakers to three consecutive titles (2000, 2001, and 2002). O'Neal was named MVP of the NBA Finals all three times and had the highest scoring average for a center in NBA Finals history.[citation needed] In the November 10, 1999, game against the Houston Rockets, O'Neal and Charles Barkley were ejected. After O'Neal blocked a layup by Barkley, O'Neal shoved Barkley, who then threw the ball at O'Neal.[30]

O'Neal was also voted the 1999–2000 regular season Most Valuable Player, one vote short of becoming the first unanimous MVP in NBA history. Fred Hickman, then of CNN, instead chose Allen Iverson, then of the Philadelphia 76ers who would go on to win MVP the next season. O'Neal also won the scoring title while finishing second in rebounds and third in blocked shots. Jackson's influence resulted in a newfound commitment by O'Neal to defense, resulting in his first All-Defensive Team selection (second-team) in 2000.[citation needed]

In the 2001 NBA Finals against the 76ers, O'Neal fouled out in Game 3 backing over Dikembe Mutombo, the 2000–2001 Defensive Player of the Year. "I didn't think the best defensive player in the game would be flopping like that. It's a shame that the referees buy into that," O'Neal said. "I wish he'd stand up and play me like a man instead of flopping and crying every time I back him down.[31]

In the summer of 2001, holding a basketball camp on the campus of Louisiana State University, O'Neal was challenged to a friendly wrestling match by future LSU and NBA player Glen "Big Baby" Davis, then 15 years of age and attending high school. O'Neal, weighing 350 lb (160 kg; 25 st), was impressed by the youngster, who lifted and body-slammed him to the ground.[32] A month before the 2001–02 season's training camp, O'Neal had corrective surgery for a claw toe deformity in the smallest toe of his left foot.[33] He opted against a more involved surgery to return quicker.[34] He was ready for the start of the regular season, but the toe frequently bothered him.[33] In January 2002 he was involved in a spectacular on-court brawl in a game against the Chicago Bulls. He punched center Brad Miller after an intentional foul to prevent a basket, resulting in a melee with Miller, forward Charles Oakley, and several other players.[35] O'Neal was suspended for three games without pay and fined id="mce_marker"5,000.[36] For the season, O'Neal averaged 27.2 points and 10.7 rebounds, excellent statistics but below his career average; he was less of a defensive force during the season.[33]

 

NBA career statistics

A list of O'Neal's career statistics:[181]

Legend
  GP Games played   GS  Games started  MPG  Minutes per game
 FG%  Field-goal percentage  3P%  3-point field-goal percentage  FT%  Free-throw percentage
 RPG  Rebounds per game  APG  Assists per game  SPG  Steals per game
 BPG  Blocks per game  PPG  Points per game  Bold  Career high

Regular season

YearTeamGPGSMPGFG%3P%FT%RPGAPGSPGBPGPPG
1992–93 Orlando 81 81 37.9 .562 .000 .592 13.9 1.9 .7 3.5 23.4
1993–94 Orlando 81 81 39.8 .599 .000 .554 13.2 2.4 .9 2.8 29.3
1994–95 Orlando 79 79 37.0 .583 .000 .533 11.4 2.7 .9 2.4 29.3
1995–96 Orlando 54 52 36.0 .573 .500 .487 11.0 2.9 .6 2.1 26.6
1996–97 L.A. Lakers 51 51 38.1 .557 .000 .484 12.5 3.1 .9 2.9 26.2
1997–98 L.A. Lakers 60 57 36.3 .584 .000 .527 11.4 2.4 .6 2.4 28.3
1998–99 L.A. Lakers 49 49 34.8 .576 .000 .540 10.7 2.3 .7 1.7 26.3
1999–00 L.A. Lakers 79 79 40.0 .574 .000 .524 13.6 3.8 .5 3.0 29.7
2000–01 L.A. Lakers 74 74 39.5 .572 .000 .513 12.7 3.7 .6 2.8 28.7
2001–02 L.A. Lakers 67 66 36.1 .579 .000 .555 10.7 3.0 .6 2.0 27.2
2002–03 L.A. Lakers 67 66 37.8 .574 .000 .622 11.1 3.1 .6 2.4 27.5
2003–04 L.A. Lakers 67 67 36.8 .584 .000 .490 11.5 2.9 .5 2.5 21.5
2004–05 Miami 73 73 34.1 .601 .000 .461 10.4 2.7 .5 2.3 22.9
2005–06 Miami 59 58 30.6 .600 .000 .469 9.2 1.9 .4 1.8 20.0
2006–07 Miami 40 39 28.4 .591 .000 .422 7.4 2.0 .2 1.4 17.3
2007–08 Miami 33 33 28.6 .581 .000 .494 7.8 1.4 .6 1.6 14.2
2007–08 Phoenix 28 28 28.7 .611 .000 .513 10.6 1.7 .5 1.2 12.9
2008–09 Phoenix 75 75 30.0 .609 .000 .595 8.4 1.7 .6 1.4 17.8
2009–10 Cleveland 53 53 23.4 .566 .000 .496 6.7 1.5 .3 1.2 12.0
2010–11 Boston 37 36 20.3 .667 .000 .557 4.8 0.7 .4 1.1 9.2
Career 1,207 1,197 34.7 .582 .045 .527 10.9 2.5 .6 2.3 23.7
All-Star 12 9 22.8 .551 .000 .452 8.1 1.4 1.1 1.6 16.8

Playoffs

YearTeamGPGSMPGFG%3P%FT%RPGAPGSPGBPGPPG
1994 Orlando 3 3 42.0 .511 .000 .471 13.3 2.3 .7 3.0 20.7
1995 Orlando 21 21 38.3 .577 .000 .571 11.9 3.3 .9 1.9 25.7
1996 Orlando 12 12 38.3 .606 .000 .393 10.0 4.6 .8 1.2 25.8
1997 L.A. Lakers 9 9 36.2 .514 .000 .610 10.6 3.2 .6 1.9 26.9
1998 L.A. Lakers 13 13 38.5 .612 .000 .503 10.2 2.9 .5 2.6 30.5
1999 L.A. Lakers 8 8 39.4 .510 .000 .466 11.6 2.3 .9 2.9 26.6
2000 L.A. Lakers 23 23 43.5 .566 .000 .456 15.4 3.1 .6 2.4 30.7
2001 L.A. Lakers 16 16 42.3 .555 .000 .525 15.4 3.2 .4 2.4 30.4
2002 L.A. Lakers 19 19 40.8 .529 .000 .649 12.6 2.8 .5 2.5 28.5
2003 L.A. Lakers 12 12 40.1 .535 .000 .621 14.8 3.7 .6 2.8 27.0
2004 L.A. Lakers 22 22 41.7 .593 .000 .429 13.2 2.5 .3 2.8 21.5
2005 Miami 13 13 33.2 .558 .000 .472 7.8 1.9 .4 1.5 19.4
2006 Miami 23 23 33.0 .612 .000 .374 9.8 1.7 .5 1.5 18.4
2007 Miami 4 4 30.3 .559 .000 .333 8.5 1.3 .2 1.5 18.8
2008 Phoenix 5 5 30.0 .440 .000 .500 9.2 1.0 1.0 2.6 15.2
2010 Cleveland 11 11 22.1 .516 .000 .660 5.5 1.4 0.2 1.2 11.5
2011 Boston 2 0 6.0 .500 .000 .000 .0 .5 0.5 .0 1.0
Career 216 214 37.5 .563 .000 .504 11.6 2.7 .5 2.1 24.3

Discography

Filmography

 

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