Happy 41st Birthday, Shaq!
For people that actually know me, they will probably know that Shaquille O'Neal is probably my favorite NBA player of All-Time. I started getting into basketball hardcore right when Shaq came into the league and spent year after year hoping the big fella would add more rings to his gigantic fingers. He ended up with 4, which is not bad in the least. More achievements by the Big Aristotle include:
- 1992-93 NBA Rookie of the Year (In a 96-2 voting win over Alonzo Mourning)
- 1994 FIBA World Championship MVP/Gold Medal (While coming off the bench for Mourning, than completely dominating)
- 1996 Olympic Gold Medalist
- 2000 NBA MVP: Let me say, his getting only one MVP in my eyes is a travesty. In my opinion, he should have 3. Still, he won the 2000 award while receiving 120 out of 121 possible votes. The heat CNN anchor Fred Hickman received (and deserved) for casting his vote for Allen Iverson (who finished 7th in voting that season) was hilarious. Even more so when David Stern declared Shaq, "a unanimous Finals MVP", after he won his first ring that season.
- 2000-2002 NBA Finals MVP: His averages over those 3 Finals were 35.9 ppg, 15.2 rpg and 2.9 bpg, shooting close to 60% FG.
- 15 time NBA All-Star and 2000, 2004 and 2009 All-Star Game MVP (Sharing 2000 with Tim Duncan and 2009 with Kobe Bryant)
- 1995 and 2000 NBA scoring titles
- 8 All-NBA 1st Teams, 2 All-NBA 2nd Teams and 4 All-NBA 3rd Teams
- 3 All-Defensive 2nd Teams
- Countless nicknames (Shaq Diesel, Shaq-Fu, The Big Aristotle, The Big Shaqtus, The Big Shamrock, Shaq Daddy, MDE, The Big Fella and the Original Superman, among countless others)
- One of my favorite ESPN commercials:
Well, just some history as we wish Shaq a very happy 41st birthday (he was born on March 6, 1972). His combination of size, power and athleticism is something that was nearly unrivalled and brought back memories of the dominance of Wilt Chamberlain. When we as a site did voting of the top players by position about a year and a half ago, Shaq finished in 3rd behind Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Wilt Chamberlain (with Bill Russell and Hakeem Olajuwon rounding out the top 5 centers).
In my opinion, Shaq is definitely on the Mount Rushmore of NBA centers. Say what you will about him as a commentator (Mr. McShaqshouldleaveTNT will surely bring this up), or free throw shooter. I have seen people say how he never lived up to his mammoth potential, to which I say, who knows? What I do know is, he was an utter dominant force for a long period of time and made countless players and franchises much better with his presence. Happy Birthday to one of the best NBA players of All-Time!
A few b-day highlights to reminisce over the Diesel's career:
Shaq playing one on one with Michael Jordan before the 1996 All-Star Game in San Antonio. Michael won MVP with 20 points, though many felt Shaq was robbed with his 25 and 10, plus will also post his vicious assault to David Robinson:
Finally, Shaq's big time birthday game of 2000 against the Clippers. When the Clippers (surprise, surprise) made Shaq pay for his tickets on his 28th birthday, the big man decided to make a statement. Scoring a career high 61 points to go with 23 rebounds, think he got his point across:
The move against MJ is amazing for a guy his size!
I'll admit, I'm not the biggest Shaq fan. I think that he never reached his full potential, didn't always work as hard as he should have, was immature at times, and handled the Kobe/Shaq beef very badly.
However, during those 3 championship seasons in LA I have never seen someone dominate the competition so badly that it actually seemed unfair. I mean he was basically averaging 37ppg and 16rpg during those championship years in the Finals. Those are crazy numbers, no one in the league had an answer for him.
Surprisingly, those 3 years are Shaq's highlights as a basketball player, but also proof that he didn't reach his potential. Why didn't he put up those numbers every year, not just in the playoffs but also during the regular season? If he had had Kobe's or MJ's work ethic we would be talking abou tthe greatest center ever and arguably the best player ever. However, he is still a top 10 all-time player which is nothing to sneeze at. He had a great career, but imo it could have been so much better
I Agree with you,that SHAQ should have more then 1 MVP Award......But Earlier in his career he was competing against some Hall of Famers like Jordan,Barkley,Robinson,Karl Malone and Olajuwon.....All of those guys were named to the 50 All Time Greatest players list..
Alot of those MVP Voters are Bias.....