“Shaquille O’Neal” is the connection between the hit Rap song “Can We Rock,” which was released in 1994, and hoops. He was a famous basketball player at the time.
How likely are you to believe that the line was actually said by one of the greatest centers and players in the history of basketball?
You could make the case that he is the most physically dominant athlete in the history of professional sports.
The legacy he left behind, with no one able to stop him, suggests that no one has ever been and never will be a better player in the NBA. The Greatest Players in NBA History has been a popular series of articles, and one of its strengths is that it does not rank its subjects in any particular order.
Even among the best centers in NBA history, Shaquille O’Neal is not considered to be among the top 10 greatest players of all time.
The greatness of Shaq. In other words, that’s the big question. With his answers, Roger Cumberbatch clears up some questions.
A look at Shaquille O’Neal’s childhood and formative years; also known as “Little” Shaq
In his first year of high school, Shaquille Rashaun O’Neal measured in at a towering 6 feet and 6 inches in height.
His parents pushed him toward the sport of basketball because of his large stature and rambunctious personality. As Shaq grew up with his stepfather Phillip Harrison, a sergeant in the army, while his biological father Joe Toney was locked up, Shaq became very close to Harrison.
Shaq credits Harrison and his mother, Lucille O’Neal, with instilling in him a military-like focus and respect for his career, despite the fact that he is, at heart, a big kid.
Shaq’s high school team went 68-1 in 1989, and he set a state record for rebounds with 791. Early on, it was obvious that something special was happening: a legend was being born.
Shaq made the transition from college to the NBA
After only three years at LSU, Shaq declared for the 1992 NBA Draft after a brief career in college. The Orlando Magic knew they had made the right choice by taking O’Neal first overall.
Shaq shot nearly 57% from the field in his rookie season, and he led the league in points (23.4 per game), rebounds (13.9 per game), and blocks (3.5 per game).
O’Neal’s Magic improved their win total by 20 games compared to the year before he arrived, but they still missed the playoffs.
Shaq led Orlando to the NBA Finals in his third season in the league, eliminating Michael Jordan in his comeback season. The Magic lost 4-0 to the Houston Rockets. O’Neal was intimidated and confused by his opponent, Hakeem Olajuwon, despite their obvious size difference.
Shaq’s failure to win a championship when facing off against one of the game’s greatest centers stands as one of his few career missteps.
Comparison of Shaq to Hakeem
O’Neal averaged 22.1 points and 12.4 rebounds per game in 20 contests against Olajuwon.
Hakeem’s performance against “The Big Aristotle,” one of Shaq’s many nicknames, was worse than his season average.
For every game, Olajuwon contributed 18.4 points and 9.1 boards. O’Neal not only outperformed the top offensive center, but he also helped limit Hakeem’s production.
NBA All-Star Shaq and the Los Angeles Lakers
Shaq moved from Orlando to Los Angeles, where he played for three consecutive NBA championship teams. O’Neal led the yellow and gold to three consecutive championships before Kobe Bryant’s tragic death in a helicopter accident in 2020.
When Shaq realized he was no longer needed, he took off for the Miami Heat, where he and Dwyane Wade eventually won the NBA championship in 2006. By the time he retired in 2011, O’Neal was a mere shadow of his former dominant self and had bounced around the league chasing titles and helping others win their first. Time had come.
Why is Shaq’s Resume Not in the Top 10?
While Shaq’s career numbers are impressive, he is not even in the top five all-time centers.
- 4x NBA Champion
- 3x NBA Finals MVP
- 2000 NBA MVP
- 15x NBA All-Star
- 3x NBA All-Star Game MVP
- 8x All-NBA First Team
- 2x All-NBA Second Team
- 2x NBA Scoring Champion (1995,200)
- 1993 NBA Rookie Of The Year
Shaquille O’Neal has always been and continues to be an influential figure away from the basketball court. Several companies and television ads feature Shaq or feature Shaq’s likeness.
In our time as O’Neal devotees, we have witnessed a respectable rap career, suffered through a few films that didn’t deserve an Oscar, and delighted in O’Neal’s insightful analysis of the NBA on TNT, which has won numerous awards, including an Emmy.
On The Spot
His trademark grin, goofy antics, and endearing demeanor were dwarfed only by his enormous stature.
In the same year that he was inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame (2016), Shaq’s net worth was estimated to be $350 million.
O’Neal’s legendary status is assured by the fact that he played in the NBA for 19 years, won four championships, captained six different teams, set an NCAA record for career blocks, had his jersey number (32), retired by LSU, and had a bronze statue erected in his honor outside the campus.
Even though “Superman,” aka Shaq, had a legendary and dominant career, his numbers don’t stack up to those of other greats. Shaq’s career scoring average is the only metric that places him in the top tier of all-time center greats.
O’Neal never led the league in blocked shots, was never named defensive player of the year, and couldn’t even compete with Hakeem Olajuwon, the best center in the league, in a one-on-one matchup.
For those interested in basketball, our Basketball Betting Guide provides the latest odds and strategies. While he didn’t make the cut for The 10 Greatest NBA Players In NBA History, Shaquille O’Neal is still considered one of the greatest athletes of all time and a legendary NBA player.