The Los Angeles Lakers retired Shaquille O’Neal’s #34 jersey at the Staples Center. When a player has his jersey retired, that’s when we, as fans and media, look back upon that player’s career. Looking back on the career of the Big Aristotle, he is definitely one of the best centers in the history of basketball.
4x NBA champion, 3x Finals MVP, 3x All-Star Game MVP, 2x scoring champ, 1 MVP award, and the greatest player intro in the history of any sport.
The accolades are numerous and astounding when you sit and really look at them. But then you’ve got to take a step further and ask ‘where does he rank among the all-time greats?’ When you start to look at some of the resumes of the other great centers in bball history, you must also ask ‘is Shaq one of the biggest underachievers of all time?’
Before you throw a virtual haymaker upside my head, hear me out.
We can all admit to the fact that as great he was, Shaq was NEVER the hardest working guy on any team he played on…ever. As we all know, that was one of the issues that led to the demise of the Shaq/Kobe dynasty. Kobe was frustrated with Shaq not taking the games as serious as he did. Coming into camp out of shape and using the 82-game season to play his way into form.
Shaq is one of the main reasons why today’s players chill during the regular season. They saw how Shaq would coast through the season and then turn it on in the playoffs and win a ring. You probably still think I’m crazy, but answer this question. If Shaq had a MJ or Kobe type work ethic and actually cared about the regular season, how many MVP’s do you think he’d have now? I still believe he was robbed his 1st year in Miami. 2004-05 Shaq led the Heat to a 17 game improvement, but the award was given to Steve Nash. Not saying he didn’t deserve it, but Shaq deserved it more
As for the all-time centers list, this is where people seem to forget about the history of this game. We know about Russell’s rings and the video game type numbers Wilt put up. But the most slept on player in the history of basketball is Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Most young heads remember Kareem as the old bald guy with the goggles who shot funny, but do your research kid.
I don’t have enough space to list all of this man’s accomplishments, but here’s a few. 6x NBA champ, 2x Finals MVP, 6x League MVP, 10x 1st Team All-NBA, 5x 2nd Team All NBA, all-time leading scorer in NBA history. The numbers are quite sick and yet some of you will put Shaq ahead of him.
In my eyes, O’Neal will always be behind Kareem, Wilt, and Russell. The only debate I see is do you put him ahead of Olajuwon or not. Hakeem won his rings during the MJ hiatus/suspension (c-o-n-spiracy), but one of those rings came in a dominant performance against a young Shaq.
However you feel about him, the Diesel aka The Big Aristotle aka Wilt Chamberneezy aka the Real Superman (stop biting D-Howard) is an NBA legend and the last of the true NBA centers.
– N.D. Face