Shaquille Rashaun O’Neal, or Shaq as he is popularly known, is known as one of the National Basketball Association’s most dominant basketball players. O’Neal first played for the Orlando Magic, later signed with the Los Angeles Lakers, and now plays for the Miami Heat. At 7 ft 1 in, 325 pounds and U. S. shoe size 22, he is famous for his physical stature. He has several nicknames, most of which he conferred upon himself, such as «the Diesel», «the Big Aristotle», and «Superman».
O’Neal was named «Shaquille Rashaun» by his biological father, Joseph Toney. However, he is not close to his biological father; one of his songs, «Biological Didn’t Bother», explains his feelings.
His mother, Lucille O’Neal Harrison, would marry U. S. Army sergeant Phillip Harrison shortly after Shaquille’s birth. Shaq spent some of his childhood in Germany in Wildflecken, Bavaria, where
his step-father Harrison was stationed with the U. S. Army. It was there that he learned to play basketball.
O’Neal fractured both of his wrists while climbing between two trees, trying to imitate Spider-Man, his comic strip favorite, and sometimes explains that this is why he makes less than half of his free throws.
Louisiana State University.
He first gained national attention as a star at Robert G. Cole Junior-Senior High School in San Antonio, Texas. He became High School Player of the Year during his playing years there. As a young man, he attended Louisiana State University to study and graduate as a bachelor in law. While on LSU’s basketball team, he was a two-time first team All-American, two-time Southeastern Conference player of the year, and the national player of the year in 1991.
Dale Brown, LSU’s coach at that time, states that he first met Shaq while he was visiting Germany, and mistook the then-13 year old for one of the soldiers.
He was the first player selected overall in
In the 1993-94 season, Shaq helped the Magic to their first playoff berth ever.
In 1994-1995, O’Neal and Anfernee Hardaway helped their team reach the NBA Finals, but were swept in four games by the Houston Rockets.
Los Angeles Lakers.
After the 1995-1996 season, O’Neal left Orlando to join the Los Angeles Lakers for an unprecedented seven year $120 million contract. He and teammate Kobe Bryant created one of the most effective guard-center combinations in NBA history, although their relationship was a tenous one and the two feuded with each other frequently in public and private.
Regardless, the two enjoyed tremendous success on the court, as O’Neal and Bryant led the Los Angeles to three consecutive NBA titles. Shaq was named MVP of the NBA Finals all three times and has the highest scoring average for a center in Finals history. He was also voted the 1999-2000 regular season Most Valuable Player, almost becoming the first unanimous MVP in NBA history.
At the beginning of the 2003-04 season, O’Neal announced he sought an extension to his contract. Laker management, however, was hesitant to meet his demands. The Lakers offered Shaquille O’Neal a contract in February 2004 to remain the highest-paid player in the league but O’Neal refused.
After the Lakers were defeated by the Detroit Pistons in the NBA Finals, O’Neal was angered by comments made by Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak regarding his future with the club, and promptly demanded a trade. O’Neal was traded to the Miami Heat for Lamar Odom, Brian Grant, and Caron Butler.
On July 14, 2004, Shaq was officially traded to the Miami Heat for Caron Butler, Lamar Odom, Brian Grant and a first-round draft pick. The trade was immediately considered one of the most important in sports history, with analysts uncertain that one man could replace so many of Miami’s key players. However, Shaq’s new-look Heat surpassed all expectations, easily claiming the best record in the Eastern Conference. Those he was traded for failed to even lead the Lakers to the playoffs. Many pundits compared the Lakers trade of Shaq to the Boston Red Sox trade of Babe Ruth, referring to their dismal following season as «The Curse of the Shaq-bino». He narrowly lost the 2004-2005 MVP award to Phoenix Suns guard Steve Nash in one of the closest votes in history. Despite being hobbled by a deep thigh bruise, Shaq lead the Heat to the Eastern Conference Finals and a Game 7 against the defending champion Detroit Pistons and lost only narrowly.
In August 2005, O’Neal signed an 5-year-extension with the Heat for 100 million dollars. Whereas critics denounced this extension as overpaying an aging player, supporters laud the Heat staff for landing the probably most dominant player in the NBA for «only» $20 million a year, in a period where mediocre or constantly injured players like Keith Van Horn, Jalen Rose, Derek Anderson, Allan Houston or Brian Grant earn almost the same amount.
By signing this contract, O’Neal contradicted his earlier comment of him never taking a pay cut in the interests of the team. He would have received $30 million this season but took a pay cut of $10 million a year to help the HEAT make trades for better players.
O’Neal has been selected to the All-Star Game every year since his rookie season in 1993 .
He has received All-NBA-Defensive honors in 2000, 2001 and 2003, though he has never been a first-team selection.
O’Neal was a key member of the 1994 World Championship and 1996 Olympic basketball team, which won gold.
He has been selected by the NBA as one of the «50 Greatest Basketballers» in 1996. He was the youngest member of this list.
In 2005, O’Neal became the first player in NBA history to average over 20 points and 10 rebounds per game for 13 seasons.
O’Neal has earned All-NBA-Team honors in 11 of his 13 seasons.
He also was awarded the MVP in the 1999-00 season and in the 2003-04 All-Star game.
O’Neal has a business law degree from LSU. At LSU there is a lodge called the «Shaquille O’Neal Lodge» which is part of the Cook Conference Center.
On June 25, 2005 O’Neal earned his MBA from the University of Phoenix.
O’Neal was ranked #9 in SLAM Magazine’s Top 75 NBA Players of all time in 2003.