4 championships total, including 3 straight (2000-2002). He won with 2 different teams (LA and Miami). Appeared in finals with 3 different teams (Orlando, LA, and Miami). He was the best player on 3 champs, arguably best on 4th (Was Wade really better than him in ‘06 when he was second in MVP voting the year before by the closest margin of all time, then is suddenly the second best player on his team the next year?). He was also the best player on 2 runners up, including when he led his team to finals in only his 3rd season (Orlando in 1995), and when the Lakers were upset by the underdog Pistons in 2004 after Karl Malone got hurt and Kobe became so selfish that both Shaq and Phil had to leave the team.
Career averages: 24 points, 11 rebounds, 2blocks, and 58% shooting, with only 16.5 field goals attempted per game, meaning he dominated without being a ball-hog. 1 MVP, and 3 Finals MVPs. 15 All-Star games. 8 All-NBA first teams, 2 All-NBA second teams, 4 All-NBA third teams, 3 All-Defensive teams, and 2 scoring titles. 5th all-time in scoring, 6th in field goals, 2nd in FG%, 14th in rebounds, 7th in blocks.
As rookie of the year in 1993, he improved Orlando’s win total from the previous year by 20 games, missing the 8th seed of the playoffs by just one game. When he left Orlando to go to LA, their win total went down by 15 games. When he joined the Heat, their win total increased by 17 and they barely missed out on going to the finals when Shaq suffered a thigh injury. That season, LA won 22 fewer games than they had with Shaq the season before and missed the playoffs entirely. Shaq has only missed the playoffs twice, in his rookie year and in 2009 with the Suns. His rookie year, when Orlando went 41-41, was the only non-winning season of his entire career.
Nicknamed Most Dominant Ever, he went unchallenged at the center position for about a decade, starting with the decline of Hakeem Olajuwon and David Robinson. Since finally relinquishing his grip on as the best center in the NBA in his old age, he’s still still top 5 center in the league. In his peak, his move to LA shifted the entire dynamic of NBA towards Western Conference Everyone started signing big men to try to slow him down, mostly throwing two or three bodies at him since no one center could contend with him. The West dominated for the next decade. And the only challenger that emerged from the West in that time was Tim Duncan, a power forward, not a center, who is currently tied wth Shaq at 4 rings a piece.
Here’s the knock on Shaq: he can’t shoot free throws, which leads to “Hack-a-Shaq.” But honestly, I think people make WAY too big a deal about that (yes, enough to justify all-caps, which is overused so I try not to use it, but in this case…). Seriously, the guy has one fault and people act like it’s a fatal flaw. The guy has won 4 titles, and nearly won 2 more. He might win another this year. Is that really that big of a fault? Aside from that, he’s not the worst free throw shooter of all-time. Both Wilt Chamberlain and Ben Wallace have worse free throw percentages than Shaq, and they won titles as well, just not as many as Shaq. So stop ficussing on the one thing that he can’t do, and spend a little more time ficussing on how he did the things he was good at so well that he changed the game forever and won multiple titles along the way. Other than that, people try to knock him because he is stronger than everyone else, and uses that to his advantage. To that I would like to point out: he made himself that way. He was skinny in high school. Shaq hit the weight room and turned himself into the unparalleled athlete that he is today. That’s not even a knock. All that argument proves is that he worked harder than anyone else to gain a competitive advantage over anyone who ever played. So in conclusion: stop hatin’.
If the Cavs win this year, that will be 5 rings for Shaq with 3 teams in 7 trips to the finals. 5 for 7, winning with three teams and going there with a fourth. If they win, he’ll only trail Bill Russell and Kareem Abdul Jabbar in championships centers, and, as far as I’m concerned, he will trail only those two as the 3rd best center of all-time. Winning is the ultimate goal in sports, and he’s done it better than all but two people at his position.
People spent way too much time this decade wondering who the next MJ would be. Will it be Kobe? Will it be LeBron? It’s a stupid argument. There will never be another Jordan. That’s not to say that no one will ever be better, but when it does it won’t be someone with his same skill set. The truth is, that question blinded us from the real answer: it was Shaq. He was the next Jordan. He defined the NBA after Jordan retired. He was its best player; its brightest star. He was its biggest personality. He was its best entertainer. He was the face of the league. And most importantly, he won the most rings. And this year he may win another.
Now that he’s reaching the tail end of his career, people need to remember just how good he has been and still is. It’s time to give Shaq his due.