All Hail Shaq!
Shaquille O’Neal is “Shaq” to the world, and will be remembered for the rest of time as one of the most pompous, slightly mouthy, best basketball players this country has ever seen
Shaq stands above (most) of the rest, considering his 7 foot 1inch height, and weighing in at 325 pounds; in fact, Shaq is one of the heaviest players who ever played in the NBA. This is a man whose strength, skill, and perseverance carried him over a stellar nineteen-year career, as fans and opponents watched this giant “Gladiator” overpower opponents, and take points and rebounds away from them in the blink of an eye.
Shaq’s list of specialties and triumphs is longer than anyone can list in a simple article, and the number of stellar basketball uniforms he wore from the many teams that he gave his blood, sweat, and tears to are colorful and varied.
The first and foremost team for Shaq came along on what had to have been one of the most amazing days in his entire life; the day he was recruited right out of college as the first overall pick in the 1992 NBA Draft. This is a center who not only strutted his stuff the very first year he went into the professional league, but he also walked away with the Rookie of the Year Award in 1992. This was his beginning – his first basketball uniform playing with the Orlando Magic. Not only was he the best rookie, but he also brought the Magic to the 1995 NBA Finals. Shaq became the first rookie to be voted an All-Star starter since good, old Michael Jordan did it first in 1985. The Magic loved Shaq, but had a bit of a problem within their ranks. Finishing 41–41, winning twenty more games than the previous season was great; however, the team ultimately missed the playoffs by virtue of a tie-breaker with the Pacers. The Magic was a bit “up in the air” where sports writers and sportscasters were concerned. Many were calling for the coach to retire, seeing as that – with Shaq – they should’ve been able to win the NBA finals, period.
When Shaq decided to step away from everything that the Magic was going through, O’Neal became a free agent. And in the summer of 1996, he found himself at another pivotal moment of his career when he was named to the United States Olympics basketball team. It was no surprise when the team won the gold medal for their work on the court. Seeing as that absolutely every member of the dream team represented the biggest names and most volatile and valuable players in the world of basketball, no other country even came close to scoring the points necessary to take the gold away from America.
When ‘real-life’ came back in and the Olympics were a memory, Shaq had decisions that had to be made. Not only did the fans have difficulty with the Magic’s head office, but they also sincerely wondered why the Magic would go out and offer Shaq a contract worth $115 million dollars. Even for a world that had the likes of Michael Jordan in their country, this deal seemed a bit ridiculous for the power of just one guy. But Shaq seemed to dislike any idea of going back to the Magic anyhow, seeing as that the player’s and the fans both seemed “miffed” at him. He was never quite sure why, either. After all, Shaq had never demanded that ridiculous amount of money, he simply demanded to play the game and be allowed to play it well.
Soon, Shaq did follow in the steps of the other “big name,” Michael Jordan, and used his power as a free agent to become an even bigger icon than he already was. Shaq signed with everyone’s favorite, the Los Angeles Lakers. This is where Shaq had his biggest triumphs and some of his worst tension and stress throughout his career. While wearing the Lakers uniform, Shaq won three consecutive championships in 2000, 2001, and 2002. In fact, the early 21st Century proved that the Lakers were the unbeatable ‘dream team’ that no one ever wanted to go up against. Not to mention, O’Neal was named the Most Valuable Player of the NBA Finals all THREE times, and had the highest scoring average for a center in NBA Finals history. However, Shaq had some difficulties there as well. Kobe Bryant and Shaq simply did not get along and, oddly enough, after so much success, Shaq was traded to the Miami Heat in 2004.
But the championships didn’t stop for Shaq! With the Miami Heat, his fourth NBA championship occurred in 2006. But, oddly enough, it seemed that the ‘higher powers’ wanted Shaq to help out all of the NBA – and spread around his skill and talent to help as many teams as humanly possible.
In 2006, Shaq found himself in the basketball uniform of the Phoenix Suns, followed by the uniforms of the Cleveland Cavaliers and then, finally the Boston Celtics. Shaq was always “back” in every single town, city, and basketball uniform that seemed to have been created – bringing with him a monumental supply of skill, talent, and the strength to never give up.
Shaq is also a huge supporter of the Boys and Girls Clubs of America. In fact, in his hometown of Newark, New Jersey, Shaq credits the Boys and Girls Club for allowing him to be able to have a safe place to get off the streets when he was a young boy, and work tirelessly to become the basketball icon he eventually became. As Shaq was quoted as saying: “It gave me something to do. I’d just go there to shoot.” That was Shaq as a young boy – with absolutely no preview of the incredible future he was going to find on the basketball courts and in the history books. One of his most memorable games was when Shaq led his Robert G. Cole High School basketball team from San Antonio, Texas to a 68–1 record during his two years there and helped the team win the state championship during his senior year; and Shaq’s791 rebounds during the 1989 season still remains as the a state record for a player in any classification.
Shaq has had his ups and downs in the basketball world. He has also had blessed triumphs and extremely ‘bad days.’ He has been seen as one of the ultimate players in basketball! And whether good day or bad – happy fan or angry opponent – Shaq has earned his top spot in the rankings of the best athletes of all time; and in the world of basketball there aren’t many who will ever beat this immortal King.
All Hail Shaq!
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