Shaq: A career retrospective
By Michael Illiano
The NBA has seen a true legend and one of its larger than life personalities call it quits.
Shaquille O'Neal is retiring at age 39 from the game of basketball.
Shaq was a standout player player at LSU and once rapped he is not a Christian Laettner and not an Alonzo Mourning, who were the two picks after him in 1993. He ended up playing with both in Miami later in his career.
Shaq's power was unmatched and made him the modern day Wilt Chamberlain. A month into his first season with the Orlando Magic, Shaq tied the all-time blocks record for one game with 15. It's a record only he and the late Manute Bol still share together to this day. From day one, Shaq took the league by storm with his vibrant personality, incredible charisma, and a world of talent that the basketball gods handed to him like a lightning bolt from the sky.
His rookie campaign saw him average 23.4 points and 13.9 rebounds per game, while shooting 56-percent. These are numbers Dwight Howard is barely touching in his prime and Shaq was doing it as a rookie. His impact was instant as the Magic vastly improved:
- 41-41 team in 1993
- 50-32 team in 1994
- 57-25 team in 1995 (reached NBA Finals)
Shaq was candid, comical, and extremely likeable. He was the only real threat to compete with Michael Jordan on a global level and regardless of what anyone will tell you, it was Shaq that carried the torch of the NBA when Jordan retired. He took the league by the horns and made the Los Angeles Lakers a dynasty once again with three straight NBA titles--and winning three Finals MVPs.
He remains one of only three players to win the MVP, All-Star Game MVP, and Finals MVP in the same year. The other two being Michael Jordan and Willis Reed.
His endless quotes and nicknames will forever live in basketball history. From his famous "We are not worried about the Sacramento Queens" comment to calling Stan Van Gundy a "master of panic," he has always provided light-hearted comedy. Most athletes would come off being arrogant, but with Shaq, it was accepted and welcome.
Let's not forget his countless nicknames:
- M.D.E (Most dominant ever)
- Wilt Chamberneazy
- Osama Bin Shaq after terrorizing Keith Van Horn in the 2002 Finals
- The Big Deporter claiming he reitired Rik Smits and Arvydas Sabonis from the league in 2000
- The Big Aristotle to refer to his constant greatness
- The Big Cactus or Shaqtus
- The Big Baryshnikov in regards to his footwork ability
- Shaq Daddy
In fact, the name Shaquille actually means Little Warrior in Arabic.
When it came to Shaq, nothing was little and everything was done big. He is a symbol of America as a whole. Go big or go home.
Scoring-wise, he is over 28,000 points, rankingg him fifth all-time behind the likes of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Karl Malone, Jordan, and Wilt. Shaq finishes 12th all-time in total rebounds, seventhth all-time in blocks, and second all-time in career field goal percentage. His numbers were just as imposing as he was.
Shaq was also an exceptional passer and perhaps the best passing center of the last 15 years. He understood how to work the double teams and was more of a high IQ player than he gets credit for.