I have to take advantage of this opportunity to write about Shaquille O’Neal. By now you know that Shaq has retired from the NBA. Hopefully you caught the self-hosted press conference. I have to admit it was kind of cool. I was skeptical to see how it was going to look, but O’Neal executed it beautifully. Hopefully LeBron was taking notes for Decision 2(sorry couldn’t resist that jab).
Now that his career is over it’s a perfect time to reflect. Shaquille O’Neal is a first ballot hall of famer, and arguably one of the top 10 players of all time. For a 5 year stretch Shaq was the most dominating player ever (that’s right I said it). Let’s take a look at the numbers: drafted #1 overall in 1992, MVP in 2000, 15 time All-Star, 2 time scoring champion (1995, 2000), 4 NBA Championships, 3 NBA Finals MVPs, 5th on the all-time scoring list. Now those stats are great but dude underachieved.
Now I’m not one of those guys that are going to underscore his career. Some people say, “If he would have gotten a jump shot Shaq would have been the greatest of all time.” To those people I would say, Shaquille didn’t have time to develop a jump shot, because he was too busy dunking on people. Look he was a beast. He didn’t need a jump shot. With that being said, Shaq could have been a better player. Think about the fact that Shaq never led the league in blocks or rebounds in a season. Why, because he didn’t want to.
That’s the only explanation.
It’s obvious that he had the talent. Look at his playoffs numbers. He averaged 30 and 15 during the 2000 and 2001 playoffs (Dikembe Mutombo led the league in rebounding both years. Say it with me, “Wow”). Couple that with the 3 Finals MVPs and you have a guy that clearly could have dominated at any time of year. If that doesn’t fully convince you then take your note from Phil Jackson (who said Shaq didn’t like to work), Kobe Bryant (who said Shaq didn’t like to work), or O’Neal himself who stated that the playoffs are the only thing that matters. So Shaq could have been a better player. Would it have won him more championships? Probably not, but it would have given dopes that pass judgment and try to rank players after their career more ammunition.
Shaq’s All Time Ranking Amongst centers
- 1. Bill Russell – He’s just number one. Made it to the finals every year of his NBA career.
- 2. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar – Probably the best center of all-time, but I don’t feel like arguing right now so I put him second.
- 3. Shaquille O’Neal – You can put Shaq lower, and I wouldn’t argue. I just believe if all centers were in their prime, Shaq would be third best.
- 4. Hakeem “The Dream” Olajuwon – Dude was a beast on both side of the floor. You could argue that he’s the second best defensive center of all-time behind Bill Russell.
- 5. Wilt Chamberlain – I’m not high on Wilt (today at least). He had great regular season numbers, but with only 2 championships it’s just tough to put him higher. Feel free to shake me from my weak argument.
Shaquille O’Neal Retirement
Dude got it done for 19 years in the NBA…well maybe 16 years. Let’s be honest the last few years weren’t great. Personally I’m glad he retired. Not only were his skills diminished, but he wasn’t able to get healthy. Watching him limp up and down the court in a Boston uniform was disheartening. I literally got emotional (I wasn’t crying, just misty. However, if the wind wasn’t blowing, and I wasn’t wiping my eyes, I would have been crying). I wanted to see Shaq be the dominate guy he was for the majority of his career. Maybe he stayed too long? Then again don’t all the greats stay to long? So I will chalk that up to being a competitor, or just greedy for rings. I think I will remember Shaq for being the player and entertainer that he was. Whether he was the Big Aristotle or the Big Shaqtus, he understood that basketball was a game that was meant to uplift people. So, I’m glad Shaq played. It wouldn’t have been the same without him.
So thank you, Shaquille “The Diesel” O’Neal
-Kortney Shane Williams
Comedian and Writer