O'Neal playing for the Celtics
|No. 32, 34, 33, 36|
| Date of birth: March 6, 1972|
Newark, New Jersey
|Height: 7 ft 1 in||Weight: 325 lbs|
|NBA Draft: 1992; Round: 1 / Pick: 1st|
Selected by the Orlando Magic
|Pro career: 1992-2011|
|Career highlights and awards|
|Shaquille O'Neal a NBA.com|
Shaquille Rashaun O'Neal (born March 6, 1972) is a retired American professional basketball player in the NBA. He has appeared in 1170 regular season games and has made 1108 starts in his 18-year NBA career. He has averaged 24.7 points, 11.2 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 2.3 blocks, 0.60 steals and 35.7 minutes while shooting 58.2 percent from the field and 52.8 percent from the foul line. He has missed a total of 162 games during his career due to injury, eight games to NBA imposed suspensions, three games due to personal reasons and two games he was a healthy scratch of the inactive list. In 1996 he was voted one of the 50 Greatest Players of all time. Before becoming a Cavalier, O'Neal has played for the Orlando Magic, Los Angeles Lakers, Miami Heat, and Phoenix Suns. While on the Suns, he was traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers for Ben Wallace, Aleksandar "Sasha" Pavlović, a 2010 second-round draft pick, and cash. Shaq has been voted to a record-tying 14 NBA All-Star Games. That streak ended in 2008. He was voted to the West All-Star Squad once again in 2009.
He led Cole High School of San Antonio to a 68-1 record during his prep career, highlighted by a 36-0 mark and Class AAA state title his senior year.
O'Neal played three years at Louisiana State University (1990-92) before leaving after his junior year as an early entry candidate. He recorded career averages of 21.6 points, 13.5 rebounds, 1.7 assists and 30.5 minutes in 90 games. He was named college basketball’s Player of the Year by The Associated Press, UPI and Sports Illustrated following his sophomore year, when he averaged 27.6 points and an NCAA-leading 14.7 rebounds.
He is currently the star of his own reality show, Shaq Vs.
Shaquille Rashaun O'Neal was born on March 6, 1972, in Newark, New Jersey, to Lucille O'Neal and Joseph Toney. His first and middle name mean "little warrior" in Islam. O'Neal remains estranged from his biological father, Joseph Toney of Newark. Toney, who was once an All-State guard in high school who was offered a basketball scholarship to play at Seton Hall, struggled with drug addiction and was, by 1973, imprisoned for drug possession when O'Neal was an infant. Upon his release, Toney did not resume a place in O'Neal's life and instead, agreed to relinquish his parental visitation rights to O'Neal's stepfather, Phillip A. Harrison, a career Army Reserve sergeant.
O'Neal first gained national attention as a star at Linton Middle School. He led his Robert G. Cole High School team, San Antonio, Texas, to a 68–1 record during his two years there and helped the team win the state title his senior year. His 791 rebounds during the 1989 season remain a state record for any one player in any classification.
After graduating from high school, O'Neal attended Louisiana State University, where he was a member of Omega Psi Phi and studied business. He had first met Dale Brown, LSU's men's basketball coach at that time, years before in Europe. With O'Neal's stepfather stationed on a U.S. Army base at Wildflecken, West Germany, and his godfather a First Sergeant at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, O'Neal attended Fulda American High School, a DODDS school.
While playing for Brown at LSU, O'Neal was a two-time All-American, two-time SEC player of the year, and received the Adolph Rupp Trophy as NCAA men's basketball player of the year in 1991. He also holds the NCAA record for blocked shots in a game with 17 blocks against Mississippi State on December 3, 1990.
O'Neal left LSU early to pursue his NBA career, but returned to school in 2000 and received a Bachelor of Arts in General Studies. He was later inducted into the LSU Hall of Fame.
O'Neal was drafted as the 1st overall pick in the 1992 NBA Draft by the Orlando Magic. (He would later be teammates on the Miami Heat with the second and third picks of that same draft: Alonzo Mourning and Christian Laettner.) During that summer, prior to moving to Orlando, he spent a significant amount of time in Los Angeles under the tutelage of Hall of Famer Magic Johnson.
Helping the Magic win 20 more games than the previous season, with the team ultimately missing the playoffs by virtue of a tie-breaker with the Indiana Pacers, and averaging 23.4 points and 13.9 rebounds per game for the season, O'Neal was named the 1993 NBA Rookie of the Year.
In his second season, O'Neal teamed with newly-drafted Anfernee Hardaway, averaged 29.4 points and led the NBA in field goal percentage at 60%. He was also voted into another All-Star game and helped the Magic make the playoffs for the first time in franchise history, where they were swept in the first round by the Indiana Pacers. On November 20, 1993, against the New Jersey Nets, O'Neal registered the first triple-double of his career, recording 24 points to go along with career highs of 28 rebounds and 15 blocks. He also made the All-NBA 3rd Team.
In his third season, O'Neal led the NBA in scoring and was voted into his third straight All-Star Game; Orlando won 57 games and won the Atlantic Division. After defeating Michael Jordan's Chicago Bulls and Reggie Miller's Indiana Pacers, the Magic reached the NBA Finals, but were swept by the defending NBA champion Houston Rockets. O'Neal made the All-NBA 2nd Team and was second in MVP voting. By O'Neal's own admission, he was badly outplayed during that series by Houston's more experienced superstar center Hakeem Olajuwon, despite putting up admirable numbers in the series.
O'Neal was injured for a great deal of the 1995–96 season, missing 28 games. He averaged 26.6 points per game, made the All-NBA 3rd Team, and played in his 4th All-Star Game. O'Neal scored a game-high 25 points and grabbed 10 rebounds. The Magic won 60 games and won the Atlantic Division again, but Orlando was swept out of the playoffs for the third consecutive season, this time by the eventual champion Chicago Bulls in the Eastern Conference Finals.
As a free agent at this point, O'Neal had shown an interest in things outside basketball, including rap music and film-acting. In the summer of 1995, O'Neal was named to the United States Olympic basketball team, and was part of the gold medal-winning team at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta.
Los Angeles Lakers
At the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, after the 1995–96 season, it was announced that O'Neal would join the Los Angeles Lakers on a seven-year, $121 million contract. His arrival rapidly raised expectations of the young team, but he missed a significant number of games due to injury in the 1996–97 season and several players had difficulty meshing with the new focal point of the offense. By 1997–98, key role players Rick Fox and Robert Horry had been added by Laker GM Jerry West. This group meshed well and won 61 regular season games. However, in both of his first two seasons in Los Angeles, O'Neal suffered a lopsided play-off defeat by the Utah Jazz. The Lakers lost the 1997 conference semifinals 4–1 and 1998 conference finals 4–0.
With the tandem of O'Neal and teenage superstar Kobe Bryant, expectations of Lakers increased. However, personnel changes was a source of instability during the 1998–99 season: long-time Lakers point guard Nick Van Exel was traded to the Denver Nuggets; his former backcourt partner Eddie Jones was packaged with back-up center Elden Campbell for Glen Rice to satisfy a demand by O'Neal for a shooter. Coach Del Harris was fired, and former Laker forward Kurt Rambis finished the season as head coach. Although the Lakers made the playoffs, they were swept by the San Antonio Spurs, led by Tim Duncan and David Robinson in the second round of the Western Conference playoffs. The Spurs would go on to win their first league title that year.
In 1999, the Lakers hired Phil Jackson as their new head coach, and the team's fortunes soon changed. Utilizing Jackson's triangle offense, O'Neal and Bryant went on to enjoy tremendous success on the court, as they led the Los Angeles Lakers to three consecutive NBA titles (2000, 2001, 2002). O'Neal was named MVP of the NBA Finals all three times and has the highest scoring average for a center in NBA Finals history.
O'Neal was also voted the 1999–2000 regular season Most Valuable Player, coming just one vote short of becoming the first unanimous MVP in NBA history. Fred Hickman, then of CNN, was the sole voter who did not cast his first place vote for O'Neal, instead choosing Allen Iverson, then of the Philadelphia 76ers who would go on to win MVP the next season. O'Neal also won the scoring title that year while finishing second in rebounds and third in blocked shots. Jackson's influence resulted in a newfound committment by O'Neal to defense, resulting in his first All-Defensive Team selection (second-team) in 2000.
In the summer of 2001, holding a basketball camp on the campus of Louisiana State University, O'Neal was challenged to a friendly wrestling match by LSU alumnus and current Boston Celtics player Glen "Big Baby" Davis, then 15 years of age and attending high school. O'Neal, weighing 350 lb (160 kg; 25 st), was impressed by the youngster, who had lifted and body-slammed to the ground. In January 2002 he was involved in a spectacular on-court brawl in a game against the Chicago Bulls. He punched center Brad Miller after an intentional foul to prevent a basket and resulting in a melee with Miller, forward Charles Oakley and several other players. O'Neal was suspended for three games without pay and given a $15,000 fine.
After the Lakers fell to 5th seed and failed to reach the Finals in 2003, the team made a concerted off-season effort to improve its roster. They sought the free agent services of forward legend Karl Malone and aging guard Gary Payton, but due to salary cap restrictions, could not offer either one nearly as much money as he could have made with other teams. O'Neal assisted in the recruitment efforts and personally persuaded both men to join the squad. Ultimately, both signed, each forgoing larger salaries in favor of a chance to win an NBA championship, which neither had accomplished in his career (and which neither would achieve with the Lakers). At the beginning of the 2003–04 season, with two years left on his contract at the time, O'Neal informed the team of his desire for a substantially larger extension to his contract. O'Neal remained persistently vocal about this desire, but Laker management was hesitant to meet his demands amid concerns about his work ethic, the possibility of further injuries, and a general decline in his game due to age. It is widely believed that there was also concern about O'Neal's relationship with Kobe Bryant, as the two had exchanged public barbs during the off-season. With Bryant scheduled to become a free agent at the end of that season, many believed he would not choose to remain with the Lakers as O'Neal's sidekick.
According to the book Madmen's Ball by Mark Heisler, the Lakers did eventually offer O'Neal a large contract in February 2004 under which he would have unquestionably continued to remain the highest paid player in the league. However, he reportedly refused after feeling his services were not needed.
After the Lakers' loss to the Detroit Pistons in the 2004 NBA Finals, O'Neal was angered by comments made by Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak regarding O'Neal's future with the club, as well as by the departure of Lakers coach Phil Jackson at the request of Dr. Buss. O'Neal made comments indicating that he felt the team's decisions were centered on a desire to appease Bryant to the exclusion of all other concerns, and O'Neal promptly demanded a trade. The Dallas Mavericks and their team owner Mark Cuban were extremely interested in O'Neal and were willing to make a trade with the Lakers, but Kupchak wanted Dirk Nowitzki, the Mavs' superstar, in return. Cuban refused to let go of Nowitzki and the Lakers ended trade talks with Dallas. However, Miami showed interest and gradually a trade agreement was made.
On July 14, 2004, O'Neal was officially traded to the Miami Heat for Caron Butler, Lamar Odom, Brian Grant, and a future first-round draft choice. O'Neal reverted from his Lakers jersey number 34 to number 32, which he wore while playing for the Orlando Magic. Upon signing with the Heat, O'Neal promised the fans that he would bring a championship to Miami. He claimed that one of the main reasons for wanting to be traded to Miami was because of their up-and-coming star, Dwyane Wade. With O'Neal on board, the new-look Heat surpassed expectations, claiming the best record in the Eastern Conference. He averaged 22.9 ppg and 10.2 rpg, made his 12th consecutive All-Star Team, and made the All-NBA 1st Team. Despite being hobbled by a deep thigh bruise, O'Neal led the Heat to the Eastern Conference Finals and a Game 7 against the defending champion Detroit Pistons, losing by a narrow margin. He also narrowly lost the 2004–05 MVP Award to Phoenix Suns guard Steve Nash in one of the closest votes in NBA history.
In August 2005, O'Neal signed a 5-year-extension with the Heat for $100 million. Supporters applauded O'Neal's willingness to take what amounted to a pay cut and the Heat's decision to secure O'Neal's services for the long term. They contended that O'Neal was worth more than $20 million per year, particularly given that considerably less valuable players earn almost the same amount. Critics, however, questioned the wisdom of the move, characterizing it as overpaying an aging and often injured player.
In the second game of the 2005–06 season, O'Neal injured his right ankle and subsequently missed the following 18 games. Many critics stated that Heat coach Pat Riley correctly managed O'Neal during the rest of the season, limiting his minutes to a career low. Riley felt doing so would allow O'Neal to be healthier and fresher come playoff time. Although O'Neal averaged career lows (or near-lows) in points, rebounds, and blocks, he said in an interview "Stats don't matter. I care about winning, not stats. If I score 0 points and we win I'm happy. If I score 50, 60 points, break the records, and we lose, I'm pissed off. 'Cause I knew I did something wrong. I'll have a hell of a season if I win the championship and average 20 points a game." During the 2005–06 season, the Heat recorded only a .500 record without O'Neal in the line-up.
O'Neal finished the season as the league leader in field goal percentage; he joined Wilt Chamberlain as the only two players in league history to lead the league in field goal percentage nine times.
In the 2006 NBA Playoffs, the Miami Heat would go on to win their first NBA Championship. Led by both O'Neal and eventual NBA Finals MVP Dwyane Wade, the 2nd seeded Heat defeated the defending Eastern Conference Champion and top-seeded Detroit Pistons in a rematch of the 2005 Conference Finals, and then defeated the Dallas Mavericks in the 2006 NBA Finals.
O'Neal put up considerably lower numbers compared to those he recorded during the 2005–06 regular season, but he twice delivered dominant games in order to close out a playoff series: a 30-point, 20-rebound effort in Game 6 against the Chicago Bulls in the first round, and a 28-point, 16-rebound, 5-block effort in Game 6 against the Pistons. It was O'Neal's fourth title in seven seasons, and fulfilled his promise of delivering an NBA championship to Miami. At the victory celebration O'Neal declared another championship was on the way, saying, "We will see you again next year!"
In the 2006–07 season O'Neal missed over thirty games with a right knee injury. The Miami Heat struggled during his absence but with his return won seven of their next eight games. Bad luck still haunted the squad however, as Wade dislocated his left shoulder, leaving O'Neal as the focus of the team. Critics were doubting if O'Neal, now in his mid thirties, was able to put the team on his shoulders and if he could carry them into the playoffs. The Heat went on a much needed winning streak to keep them in the race for a playoff spot, which the Heat finally secured against the Cleveland Cavaliers on April 5.
In a rematch of the year before, the Heat faced the Bulls in the first round of the playoffs. The Heat struggled against the Bulls and although O'Neal put up reasonable numbers, he was not able to dominate the series. The Bulls outplayed the Heat, resulting in a sweep. It was for the first time in ten years that O'Neal did not advance into the second round.
In the 2006–07 season O'Neal reached 25,000 career points, becoming the 14th player in NBA history to accomplish that milestone. Despite this milestone, the 2006–07 season was the first in his career in which O'Neal's scoring average dropped below 20 points per game.
O'Neal experienced a rough start for the 2007–08 season, averaging career lows in points, rebounds and blocks. His role in the Heat offense diminished, as he attempted only 10 field goals per game, in comparison with his career average of 17. In addition, O'Neal was plagued by fouls, and during one stretch fouled out five consecutive games. As a result of his poor performance and lengthy court absences, O'Neal's 14 straight All-Star appearances ended that season, as he was neither selected as a starter nor as a reserve in the game at New Orleans.
The Phoenix Suns acquired O'Neal from the Miami Heat in exchange for Shawn Marion and Marcus Banks. O'Neal made his Suns debut on February 20, 2008 against his former Lakers team, scoring 15 points and grabbing 9 rebounds in the process. The Lakers won, 130–124. O'Neal was upbeat in a post-game press conference, stating: "I will take the blame for this loss because I wasn't in tune with the guys... But give me four or five days to really get in tune and I'll get it."
However, in 28 regular-season games, O'Neal averaged 12.9 points and 10.6 rebounds in his first year with the Suns, reaching the playoffs. One of the alleged reasons for the trade was to limit Tim Duncan of the San Antonio Spurs in case of a series during the postseason, especially after the Suns' six-game elimination in the 2007 NBA Playoffs. O'Neal and the Phoenix Suns did face the San Antonio Spurs in the first round of the playoffs, yet they were once again eliminated, this time in five games. In the series, O'Neal averaged 15.2 points, 9.2 rebounds and 1.0 assists per game.
The 2008–09 season differed very much for O'Neal, averaging 18 pts, 9 rebounds, and 1.6 blocks through the first half (41 games) of the season, leading the Suns to a 23–18 record and 2nd place in their division. He returned to the All-Star Game in 2009 and emerged as co-MVP along with ex-teammate Kobe Bryant.
On February 27, 2009, O'Neal scored 45 points and grabbed 11 rebounds, his 49th career 40-point game in a win against the Toronto Raptors. He and the Suns defeated the Raptors 133–113. He led the NBA with a .609 Field goal%. The 2009 NBA Playoffs was also the first time since O'Neal's rookie season in 1992–93 that he did not participate in the playoffs.
Throughout his career, O'Neal established himself as a formidable low post presence, putting up career averages of 25.2 points on .581 field goal accuracy, 11.5 rebounds and 2.4 blocks per game (as of May 2008).
At 7 ft 1 in, 325 lb , with a shoe size 23, he is famous for his physical stature. His physical frame gives him a power advantage over most opponents, and for a man of that size, he is quick and explosive.
O'Neal's "drop step", (called the "Black Tornado" by O'Neal) in which he posts up a defender, turns around and, using his elbows for leverage, powers past him for a very high-percentage slam dunk, has proven an extremely effective offensive weapon, though it has been limited in recent years. In addition, O'Neal frequently uses a right-handed jump hook shot to score near the basket. The ability to dunk frequently contributes to his career field goal accuracy of .582; he is the second most accurate shooter of all time.
Opposing teams often use up many fouls on O'Neal, limiting the playing time of their own big men. O'Neal's physical presence inside the paint has caused dramatic changes in many teams' offensive and defensive strategies that can be seen over the course of his career. Trying to defend O'Neal, teams put two, or sometimes even three defenders on him, resulting in uncontested shot opportunities for his teammates.
O'Neal's primary weakness is his free-throw shooting. His career average is 52.4%. He once missed all 11 free throws in a game against the Seattle SuperSonics on December 8, 2000, a record. In hope of exploiting O'Neal's poor foul shooting, opponents often commit intentional fouls against him, a tactic known as "Hack-a-Shaq". O'Neal is the fourth-ranked player all-time in free throws taken, having shot 9744 in 971 games. On December 25, 2008, O'Neal missed his 5,000th free throw, becoming the second player in NBA history to do so along with Wilt Chamberlain.
O'Neal has been able to step up his performance in big games, having been voted three-times NBA Finals Most Valuable Player. However, because of his poor free-throw shooting (see below), often he is either placed on the bench, or not called upon to take shots, in the closing moments of games, when free throws become important.
On his own half of the hardwood, O'Neal is considered to be a capable defender, and he was named three times to the All-NBA Second Defensive Team. His presence serves to intimidate opposing players shooting near the basket, and he has averaged 2.4 blocked shots per game over the course of his career. He is a less effective defender at the perimeter, sometimes targeted for pick-and-roll plays by opposing teams.
As a teammate, O'Neal is also noted for his ability to form symbiotic relationships with young, talented guards. Playing alongside O'Neal, talents like Penny Hardaway, Kobe Bryant and Dwyane Wade blossomed into legitimate superstars. Eventually, his relationships with Hardaway and Bryant soured, but O'Neal has embraced his relationship with Wade, and the two have shown to be fully supportive of each other in their three years together. He has since reconciled with both Bryant and Hardaway. O'Neal is a 2009 inductee of the New Jersey Hall of Fame.
Beyond The Court
Shaq is also a succesful rapper and actor.
His Films Include:
- Blue Chips (1994)
- Kazaam! (1996)
- Steel (1997)
- Scary Movie 4 (2006)
His Albums Include:
- Shaq Diesel (1993)
- Shaq-Fu: Da Return (1994)
- You Can't Stop the Reign (1996)
- Respect (1998)
You May Also remember the Video Game Shaq-Fu by EA for the Super Nintendo.
NBA career statistics
|GP||Games played||GS||Games started||MPG||Minutes per game|
|FG%||Field-goal percentage||3P%||3-point field-goal percentage||FT%||Free-throw percentage|
|RPG||Rebounds per game||APG||Assists per game||SPG||Steals per game|
|BPG||Blocks per game||PPG||Points per game||Bold||Led League|