A bronze statue of legendary Los Angeles Lakers and NBA Hall of Fame player Shaquille “Shaq” O’Neal was unveiled in Star Plaza at STAPLES Center prior to the Lakers game on March 24, 2017.
Day 34 of 100 Days of Hoops is one of the easiest days to assign. It goes to none other than Shaquille O’Neal, also known as; Shaq, Shaq Daddy, Superman, Diesel, and The Big Aristotle among many other self-given nicknames and aliases throughout his illustrious 19-year NBA career.
O’Neal played with six different teams (ORL, LAL, MIA, PHX, CLE, BOS) throughout his career but the only time he wore the No. 34 was during his eight seasons (1996-2004) in Los Angeles with the Lakers where he continued the tradition of dominant big men for the franchise.
The list of accomplishments for the big man are countless and his statistics reflect his dominance during the height of his playing career.
Per Game as Laker:
Total as Laker:
O’Neal was the most unstoppable force in the game when a dominant big man was a key ingredient for teams to cook up a championship. Although O’Neal only won one regular season MVP trophy (1999-2000), he was the anchor that lead the Lakers to their first three-peat in the new millennium (2000-2002) along with three Finals MVP trophies to go along with the three-year championship run. During the three-year run, O’Neal prevented NBA Hall of Famers Reggie Miller and Allen Iverson from winning it all during their lone Finals appearances.
O’Neal was a punishing force on the court and was on the receiving end of many hard fouls and physical play from opponents. The 7-foot big man dominated in the paint and used a combination of strength and power to make defenders look foolish when trying to defend him. O’Neal’s game evolved as his body transformed during his playing career. During his time with the Lakers, he could run the floor, impose his will in the post and was the last line of defense at the basket often taking pride in swatting away the offers from guards who dared step in the paint.
Words don’t do the man’s utter dominance justice:
Many believe that if O’Neal had dedicated his life to the game he could have been the greatest of all-time at the position but his interests off the court allowed him to settle to be on of the all-time greats instead. If he had stayed in shape throughout his entire career instead of pursuing interests outside the court like rapping and acting, O’Neal could have achieved much more. Saying all that, he is still permanently enshrined outside the Staples Center in Los Angeles, along with his No. 34 retired in the rafters.
Today, O’Neal continues to be involved with the game as an analyst for the NBA on TNT. He brings the fans a segment called Shaqtin’ a Fool every week during the NBA season. He gives us the lighter and more comical side of the game at the expense of current players.