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.]]>
After yesterday’s barely existent and extremely depressing sports news cycle we were owed a day full of interesting sports stories (and ones that didn’t make you want to take a bath with a plugged-in hair dryer). Well, the sports gods have provided. Here’s some links to the best stories of the day.
Hilarious f#ck ups from football announcers (from Holy Taco)
Oregon’s football coach gave a fan his money back after Oregon’s pathetic performance on the field. I wonder what would happen if I tried to pull the same move with the Cubs for all the money I’ve spent on them…
Former receiver David Givens is suing the Titans for a withheld medical report that might have ended his career. That’s not gonna win him any friends in Tennessee.
Kansas guard Tyshawn Taylor suffered an injury during a brawl between his teammates and the school’s football team. Who do you think won? I’m going with the obese people over the skinny kids.
Some rich guy with time on his hands wants to milk the one-sided rivalry between MJ and Bryon Russel.
This rookie on the who plays for the DC area football team (I refuse to use their horribly racist name) is a massive idiot.
Tom Brady and his wife Gisele are being sued because their security popped off some shots at the paparazzi.
We have our first NFL player arrest of the season! Finally! Now we can just sit back and watch dozens more of these roll in over the next 4 months.
Mark Reynolds set a single season record. He should be ashamed of himself. No, really.
Kurt Shilling finally realizes what we’ve all wanted from him all these years: to shut the f#ck up and go away so we can remember his career fondly.
Larry Fitzgerald’s brother thinks that Kurt Warner is stupid for setting a single game record for completion percentage and walking away with a win instead of chucking the ball up to Fitz.
That’s all I have for now. If you want more, go google some sh*t, you lazy bastard.
Today Michael Jordan will be inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame, along with John Stockton, David Robinson, and Jerry Sloan. Since every sports program on Earth is discussing Jordan’s best moments, my brother and I talked about our favorite Jordan memories last night. It should be noted that we’re both huge Bulls fans, being born and raised in Chicago, and both old enough to remember Jordan’s rookie year on. Also, our family had season tickets for the last three Bulls championships. My brother had trouble nailing down his number one Jordan moment, but for me, it was clear. But before I get into what I think is Jordan’s defining moment, I would like to share my favorite in-person Bulls story.
The greatest sporting event I have ever attended was the 96 to 54 massacre over the Jazz in game 3 of the 1998 Finals. Read that score again. 96-54. A 42 point difference. We almost doubled them in points. It was, in my estimation, the biggest ass whooping in the history of professional sports, and it happened in the NBA Finals.
When I got home, my friend called me and said that it must have been the most boring game since it wasn’t even close from the first 5 minutes on. My immediate response was, “Actually, that’s the greatest game I’ve ever seen in my life.” I then went on to explain how satisfying it was to watch our superstars embarrass theirs. How Jordan was scoring at will. How Pippen drew three offensive fouls against Malone in the first half. How, Malone and Stockton only played 4 or 5 minutes of the 3rd quarter, then never came back onto the court, because there was no point. They couldn’t make a difference. The game was already over. How we were screaming for blood as Steve Kerr, Toni Kukoc, Jud Buechler, and Scott Burrell were raining three pointers down upon them in the 4th quarter, proving that, not only were our starters vastly superior to their, but that our bench could light up their bench to a shocking degree. We were toying with them, like killer whales flinging seals into the air. The Jazz thought it was cruel, and Jerry Sloan said so in his press conference afterward. It wasn’t. We were just asserting ourselves and teaching them a lesson. That lesson was that our team was superior to theirs in every way. Our Hall of Famers were better than theirs. Our starters were better. Our bench full of Sixth Man Award winners was better than their bench. Our Hall of Fame coach was better than their Hall of Fame coach. It proved that no matter what, they were not walking away with that trophy. They might win a few battles, but the war was already won.
And that’s what brings me to my defining Jordan moment. It was in game 6 of the 1998 Finals. But, no, it was not his game winning shot. It was the events that led up to his calmly sinking a championship-winning jumper despite everyone on the planet knowing he was going to take it. The Jazz have the ball, up by one with the clock ticking down. They are trying to kill a little time before taking a shot that will hopefully put them up by three, and give the Bulls only a chance to tie with a last second three pointer. But these circumstances don’t sit well with Michael Jeffrey Jordan. He refuses to let his destiny rest in any hands other than his own.
So while Karl Malone posts up on the left block, Jordan comes around baseline to his blind side. I once saw an interview with a Jazz fan who was at the game. He said it all happened like in a horror movie cliche, “Look out! He’s right behind you!” And then in slow motion, “NOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!” Everyone knows what’s going to happen, yet are powerless to stop it. They can only watch in horror (or if you were a Bulls or Jordan fan, pure delight). Down comes Jordan’s hand like a bloody axe into a cute camp counselor. He slaps the ball away from Malone, a man much larger and stronger than he, and who had both hands on the ball. Jordan then collects the ball and calls time out.
What happens next is what everyone remembers, and what is probably his most famous play: sinking the game winning shot of his last title even though everyone knew he’d be the one taking it, and somehow everyone knowing he’d make it despite all of those heaped-on expectations. But without that steal, none of that would have happened. I’m not saying this to hype up Jordan’s defensive skills, or his all-around talent instead of his scoring or clutch abilities. What I’m illustrating is just how much better he was in the most important moments than even one of the other greatest players of all time. That was supposed to be Karl Malone’s moment. But Jordan would have none of it. He will snatch your moment right out of your hands. He will steal your dreams. He will calmly snuff out your hopes with a killer instinct that has yet to be matched in sports. His will to win is vastly unparalleled. Other great men are merely his foils. The footnotes to the history that he will write. That trophy is his, and there is nothing you can do about it. Nothing. The best description I can think of for Jordan is that he was the guy for whom winning was a guaranteed thing regardless of the circumstances, and purely because he would accept no other outcome. And somehow, no person of force in the universe could stop this inevitable victory from happening. He constantly willed himself into impossible outcomes, even long after people had expected the impossible from him and had done everything they could to try to prevent it. But what can you do to stop the inevitable? How do you break an iron will? You don’t. And that’s what makes great men great.]]>