Tribute To The Big Fella And The Legend Of Shaquille O’Neal – Part 1 – His Basketball Playing Years
Posting this page today, brings me great joy…..cuz I have been a big fan of basketball legend Shaquille O’Neal….aka Shaq Daddy, The Big Aristotle, The Big Baryshnikov, Shaq Fu, Shaqtus, The Big Conductor, The Big Daddy, Superman, The Big Agave, The Big Cactus, The Real Deal, The Big Leprechaun, The Big Galactus, The Big Shaqtus, The Big Shamrock or The Diesel…..for like the myriad of nicknames that have been attached to Shaquille O’Neal…..so are the stories of his monumental feats on the basketball floor…..to go along with a personality as big as the man himself. The fact remains that I saw in person, Games 4 and 5 of the San Antonio Spurs Vs Phoenix Suns in the 1st Round of the Western Conference Playoffs…..and had the opportunity of standing next to Shaq Daddy….and he dwarfed me like I had never been dwarfed before…..cuz I am 6’3″ and 275 lbs with broad shoulders and big bones….and I’m here to tell you….“I don’t play small to many folks”…..and The Shaqtus dwarfed me, cuz I was just small next to him. Now, I go back to the 1989 Texas High School State 3A Championship finals with Clarksville Vs San Antonio Cole (who was led by Shaquille O’Neal….as I made a point to go the the finals of all class divisions of the Texas UIL State Basketball Championship Finals every year that my sports bar was operational in downtown Austin. Even then, it was amazing how well that the young “child behemouth” known as Shaquille O’Neal could move…..as he was already The Big Baryshnikov, while leading his San Antonio Cole team to the Texas UIL State 3AAA Championship. Over the course of the next 22 years of playing college ball at LSU and in the NBA until 2011, Shaquile O’Neal would “spin a legendary career” that deserved the myriad of nicknames that he gathered…..for he was truly as BIG AS LIFE itself….which certainly deserves to be showcased here at ImaSportsphile …..and I am delighted to bring Shaq’s story to you.
NCAAM & NBA – 1985 To 2022 – Original Career Documentary – “Shaquille O’Neal: Shaq Attack”
Shaquille Rashaun O’Neal (born March 6, 1972), known commonly as “Shaq” , is an American former professional basketball player…..who is currently in 2022, a sports analyst on the television program Inside the NBA…..and is regarded as one of the greatest basketball players and centers of all time. He is a 7-foot-1-inch (2.16 m) and 325-pound (147 kg) center…..who played for six teams over his 19-year career in the NBA…..and is a four-time NBA champion.
NBA – 1989 To 2011 – HBO Special Film – Official Trailer – “Shaq”
After playing college basketball for the LSU Tigers, O’Neal was drafted by the Orlando Magic with the first overall pick in the 1992 NBA draft. He quickly became one of the best centers in the league…..while winning Rookie of the Year in 1992–93…..and leading his team to the 1995 NBA Finals. After four years with the Magic, O’Neal signed as a free agent with the Los Angeles Lakers…..and they won three consecutive championships in 2000, 2001, and 2002. Amid tension between O’Neal and Kobe Bryant, O’Neal was traded to the Miami Heat in 2004….. and his 4th NBA championship followed in 2006. Midway through the 2007–2008 season he was traded to the Phoenix Suns…..when after a season-and-a-half with the Suns, O’Neal was traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 2009–10 season. O’Neal played for the Boston Celtics in the 2010–11 season before retiring.
HS / NCAAM / NBA – 1985 To 2011 – Special – “10 Things You Didn’t Know About Shaquille O’Neal”
O’Neal’s individual accolades include the 1999–2000 Most Valuable Player (MVP) Award; the 1992–93 NBA Rookie of the Year award; 15 All-Star Game selections, three All-Star Game MVP awards; three Finals MVP awards; two scoring titles; 14 All-NBA team selections and three NBA All-Defensive Team selections. He is one of only three players to win NBA MVP, All-Star Game MVP and Finals MVP awards in the same year (2000)…..with the other players are Willis Reed in 1970 and Michael Jordan in 1996 and 1998. He ranks 8th all-time in points scored, 6th in field goals, 15th in rebounds, and 8th in blocks. O’Neal was honored as one of the league’s greatest players of all-time by being named to the NBA 50th Anniversary Team in 1996. Due to his ability to dunk the basketball and score from close range, O’Neal also ranks 3rd all-time in field goal percentage (58.2%). O’Neal was elected into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2016. He was elected to the FIBA Hall of Fame in 2017. In October 2021, O’Neal was again honored as one of the league’s greatest players of all-time by being named to the NBA 75th Anniversary Team.
NBA – 1992 To 2011 – Special Film – “Shaquille O’Neal: Larger Than Life”
In addition to his basketball career, O’Neal has released four rap albums, with his 1st, Shaq Diesel, going platinum. O’Neal is also an electronic music producer, and touring DJ, known as DIESEL. He has appeared in numerous films and has starred in his own reality shows, Shaq’s Big Challenge and Shaq Vs. He hosts The Big Podcast with Shaq. He was a minority owner of the Sacramento Kings from 2013 to 2022…..and is the general manager of Kings Guard Gaming of the NBA 2K League.
Music – 1993 – Zomba Recording Presents – Rapper Shaquille O’Neal – “(I Know I Got) Skillz”
Music – 1993 – From The Album What’s Up Doc – Shaquille O’Neal & Fu-Schnikens – “What’s Up Doc? (Can We Rock)”
Music – 1994 – From the Rap Album Shaq Fu Da Return – “Shaquille O’Neal: Stand & Deliver”
O’Neal was born on March 6, 1972, in Newark, New Jersey, to Lucille O’Neal and Joe Toney…..who played high school basketball (he was an All-State guard)…..and was offered a basketball scholarship to play at Seton Hall. Toney struggled with drug addiction and was imprisoned for drug possession when O’Neal was an infant…..when upon his release, he did not resume a place in O’Neal’s life…..and instead agreed to relinquish his parental rights to O’Neal’s Jamaican stepfather, Phillip Arthur Harrison, a career Army sergeant. O’Neal remained estranged from his biological father for decades…..as Shaq has not spoken with Toney or expressed an interest in establishing a relationship. On his 1994 rap album, Shaq Fu: The Return, O’Neal voiced his feelings of disdain for Toney in the song “Biological Didn’t Bother“, dismissing him with the line “Phil is my father.” However, O’Neal’s feelings toward Toney mellowed in the years following Harrison’s death in 2013…..and the two met for the 1st time in March 2016, with O’Neal telling him, “I don’t hate you. I had a good life. I had Phil.”
Music – 1994 – Zomba Recordings Presents – “Shaquille O’Neal – Biological Didn’t Bother”
O’Neal came from a tall family. His father and mother were 6 ft 1 in (1.85 m) and 6 ft 2 in (1.88 m) tall, respectively…..and by age 13, O’Neal was already 6 ft 6 in (1.98 m) tall…..as he has credited the Boys & Girls Clubs of America in Newark with giving him a safe place to play…..and keeping him off the streets. “It gave me something to do,” he said. “I’d just go there to shoot. I didn’t even play on a team.” Because of his stepfather’s career in the military, the family left Newark, moving to military bases in Germany and Texas. After returning from Germany, O’Neal’s family settled in San Antonio, Texas. By age 16, O’Neal had grown to 6 ft 10 in (2.08 m)…..and began playing basketball at Robert G. Cole High School…..where he led his team to a 68–1 record over two years…..and helped the team win the state championship during his senior year. His 791 rebounds during the 1989 season remains a state record for a player in any classification. O’Neal’s tendency to make hook shots earned comparisons to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar…..which inspired him to wear the same jersey number as Abdul-Jabbar, # 33…..however, his high school team did not have a 33 jersey, so O’Neal chose to wear # 32 before college.
HS Basketball & NCAAM – 1985 To 1989 – Special Film – Shaquille O’Neal High School Basketball Highlights
High School Basketball – 1985 To 1988 – Special – “Shaquille O’Neal – High School Memories”
HS Basketball & NCAAM – 1985 To 1988 – Special Interview – Shaquille O’Neal’s Father and College Coach Talk About His Personality
After graduating from high school, O’Neal studied business at Louisiana State University (LSU). He had first met Tigers coach Dale Brown years earlier in Europe when O’Neal’s stepfather was stationed on a U.S. Army base at Wildflecken, West Germany. 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…..plus, he was also named college player of the year by AP and UPI. O’Neal left LSU early to pursue his NBA career…..but continued his education even after becoming a professional player. He was later inducted into the LSU Hall of Fame. A 900-pound (410 kg) bronze statue of O’Neal is located in front of the LSU Basketball Practice Facility.
NCAAM – 1985 To 1989 – LSU Special Highlights – “The College Career of Shaquille O’Neal”
NCAAM – 1992 – NCAA March Madness Special – “Shaquille O’Neal’s Triple Double Vs BYU”
NCAAM – 1989 To 1992 – LSU Sports Special – “LSU Great Shaquille O’Neal”
NCAAM – 1992 – NCAA March Madness 2nd Round – LSU Vs Indiana – Shaquille O’Neal LSU Full Highlights With 36 Pts 12 Rebs 5 Blks – Last College Game
The Orlando Magic drafted O’Neal with the 1st overall pick in the 1992 NBA draft….when in the summer before moving to Orlando, he spent time in Los Angeles under the tutelage of Hall of Famer Magic Johnson. O’Neal wore # 32 because Terry Catledge refused to relinquish the 33 jersey. O’Neal was named the Player of the Week in his 1st week in the NBA, the 1st player to do so. During his rookie season, O’Neal averaged 23.4 points on 56.2% shooting, 13.9 rebounds and 3.5 blocks per game for the season. He was named the 1993 NBA Rookie of the Year…..and was the 1st rookie to be voted an All-Star starter since Michael Jordan in 1985. The Magic finished 41–41, winning 20 more games than the previous season…..but missed the playoffs by virtue of a tie-breaker with the Indiana Pacers. On more than one occasion during the year, Sports Illustrated writer Jack McCallum overheard O’Neal saying, “We’ve got to get [head coach] Matty [Guokas] out of here and bring in [assistant] Brian [Hill].”
NBA – 1992 – NBA Draft Show – Featuring Commissioner David Stern Announcing # 1 Draft Choice of the Orlando Magic – 7.1 Ft. 300 lbs Center from LSU Shaquille O’Neal
NBA – 1992 – NBA on TNT Draft Show Special – “Shaquille O’Neal Gets Drafted # 1 Overall In the 1992 NBA Draft”
NBA – 1992 – NBA Draft – # 1 Pick of the Orlando Magic – 7.1 ft. 300 lbs Center from LSU Shaquille O’Neal
NBA – 1992 – Game of the Week – Orlando Magic Vs New York Knicks – Magic’s Rookie Shaquille O’Neal’s 1st NBA Game
In 1993–1994, O’Neal’s 2nd season, Hill was the coach and Guokas was reassigned to the front office. O’Neal improved his scoring average to 29.4 points (2nd in the league to David Robinson)…..while leading the NBA in field goal percentage at 60%. On November 20, 1993, against the New Jersey Nets, O’Neal registered the 1st triple-double of his career…..while recording 24 points to go along with career highs of 28 rebounds and 15 blocks. He was voted into the All-Star game…..and also made the All-NBA 3rd Team. Teamed with newly drafted Anfernee “Penny” Hardaway, the Magic finished with a record of 50–32…..and made the playoffs for the 1st time in franchise history…..when in his 1st playoff series, O’Neal averaged 20.7 points and 13.3 rebounds as the Pacers swept the Magic.
NBA – November 20, 1993 – Special Highlights of Nets Vs Magic – Featuring Magic C Shaquille O’Neal – Scoring His 1st Triple Double with 24 Pts. / 15 Blocked Shots / 28 Rebounds
NBA – 1993/1994 – Highlights Special – Magic Full Season Highlights – Featuring 21 Year Old Shaquille O’Neal Dominating the NBA
NBA – 1993 – Special – “Rookie Shaquille O’Neal vs Charles Barkley – Physical!!!”
NBA – 1993 – NBA All Star Game Highlights – Featuring Magic Rookie Shaquille O’Neal – With 14 Pts / 5 Rebounds / 2 Blocks
In O’Neal’s 3rd season, 1994–95, he led the NBA in scoring with a 29.3 point average…..while finishing second in MVP voting to David Robinson…..and entering his 3rd straight All-Star Game along with Hardaway…..as they formed one of the league’s top duos…..while helping Orlando to a 57–25 record and the Atlantic Division crown. The Magic won their 1st-ever playoff series against the Boston Celtics in the 1995 NBA Playoffs…..then they defeated the Chicago Bulls in the conference semifinals. After beating Reggie Miller’s Indiana Pacers, the Magic reached the NBA Finals, facing the defending NBA champion Houston Rockets. O’Neal played well in his first Finals appearance…..while averaging 28 points on 59.5% shooting, 12.5 rebounds, and 6.3 assists…..and despite this, the Rockets, led by future Hall-of-Famers Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler, swept the series in four games.
NBA – 1994/95 – GOAT SZN Highlights Special – “Magic Shaq Was A Problem!” – Best Shaq Daddy Footage of 1994/95
NBA – 1994/95 – NBA Finals Game 4 Highlights – Orlando Magic Vs Houston Rockets – Featuring Epic Duel Between Hakeem Olajuwon vs Shaquille O’Neal
NBA – 1994/95 – Orlando Magic Special – “Shaquille O’Neal & Penny Hardaway: Believe In Magic”
NBA – The 1990’s – Special – Bomani Jones Highlights The Shaq-Penny Magic Team of the 1990’s – As They Bounced MJ and the Bulls from the Playoffs
O’Neal was injured for a great deal of the 1995–96 season….and after missing 28 games…..he still averaged 26.6 points and 11 rebounds per game, made the All-NBA 3rd Team and played in his 4th All-Star Game. Despite O’Neal’s injuries, the Magic finished with a regular season record of 60–22…..which was 2nd in the Eastern conference to the Chicago Bulls…..who finished with an NBA record 72 wins. Orlando easily defeated the Detroit Pistons and the Atlanta Hawks in the first two rounds of the 1996 NBA Playoffs….. however, they were no match for Jordan’s Bulls…..who swept them in the Eastern Conference Finals.
NBA – 1995 – NBA Game of the Week Highlights – Los Angeles Lakers Vs Orlando Magic – Featuring One of Shaquille O’Neal’s Greatest Games – With 45 Pts / 11 Rebounds / 4 Blocked Shots / 5 Steals
NBA – 1996 – Game of the Week Highlights – Orlando Magic vs Chicago Bulls – With Shaq + Penny Vs. Michael Jordan
NBA & Newa – 1996 – Special Reports – “Shaquille O’Neal Announces He Is Leaving the Orlando Magic for the Los Angeles Lakers During the Atlanta Olympics”
O’Neal became a free agent after the 1995–96 NBA season. In the summer of 1996, O’Neal was named to the United States Olympic basketball team….. and was later part of the gold medal-winning team at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta. While the Olympic basketball team was training in Orlando, the Orlando Sentinel published a poll that asked whether the Magic should fire Hill if that were one of O’Neal’s conditions for returning…..with 82% of those polled answered “no”. O’Neal had a power struggle while playing under Hill…..while saying that the team “just didn’t respect Hill”. Another question in the poll asked whether O’Neal was worth $115 million, in reference to the amount of the Magic’s offer…..when 91.3% of the response said it was not…..so, O’Neal’s Olympic teammates teased him over the poll…..plus, he was also upset that the Orlando media implied O’Neal was not a good role model for having a child with his longtime girlfriend with no immediate plans to marry…..as Shaq Daddy compared his lack of privacy in Orlando to “feeling like a big fish in a dried-up pond”. He also learned that Hardaway considered himself the leader of the Magic and did not want O’Neal making more money than him.
Olympics – 1996 – Pre-Olympics Competition on TNT – China Vs USA – Featuring USA Centers David Robinson + Hakeem Olajuwon + Shaquille O’Neal
On the team’s 1st full day at the Olympics in Atlanta, the media announced that Shaquille O’Neal would join the Los Angeles Lakers on a seven-year, $121 million contract…..as The Big Aristotle insisted he did not choose Los Angeles for the money…..while discussing the signing he referred to a couple of his product endorsements, saying: “I’m tired of hearing about money, money, money, money, money. I just want to play the game, drink Pepsi, wear Reebok.” The Lakers won 56 games during the 1996–97 season. O’Neal averaged 26.2 points and 12.5 rebounds in his 1st season with Los Angeles….. however, he again missed over 30 games due to injury…..as the Lakers made the playoffs…..but were eliminated in the 2nd round by the Utah Jazz in five games. In his 1st playoff game for the Lakers, O’Neal scored 46 points against the Portland Trail Blazers…..which was the most for the Lakers in a playoff game since Jerry West had 53 in 1969.
NBA – 1996 To 2004 – NBA Lakers Highlights Special – Shaquille O’Neal Lakers Career Mixtape!
NBA – 1996 – Special – “The Shaq Attack is in Los Angeles” – Shaquille O’Neal Signs With The Lakers
NBA – 1997 – NBA Playoffs Special –“Shaquille O’Neal Monster LAL Playoffs Debut vs Blazers – 46 Pts While Destroying Sabonis!”
NBA – 2018 – NBA Stats All Season – Special – “Kobe – Shaq 1-on-1 Interview” – On All Things Lakers & Their Relationship
NBA – 1998 To 2003 – Los Angeles Lakers Special – “Shaq and Kobe – The Dynamic Duo Documentary”
On December 17, 1969. O’Neal shoved Dennis Rodman of the Chicago Bulls…..when Rodman’s teammates Scottie Pippen and Michael Jordan restrained Rodman…..and prevented further conflict…..when the Los Angeles Daily News reported that O’Neal was willing to be suspended for fighting Rodman…..and O’Neal said: “It’s one thing to talk tough and one thing to be tough.”
NBA – 1996 To 2004 – BBall Vault Special – “Shaquille O’Neal vs Dennis Rodman Heated Moments Compilation”
The following season, O’Neal averaged 28.3 points and 11.4 rebounds. He led the league with a 58.4 field goal percentage…..which was the 1st of five consecutive seasons in which he did so. The Lakers finished the season 61–21, first in the Pacific Division, and were the 2nd seed in the western conference during the 1998 NBA Playoffs. After defeating the Portland Trail Blazers and Seattle SuperSonics in the first two rounds, the Lakers again fell to the Jazz, this time in a 4–0 sweep.
NBA – 1998 – Game of the Week Highlights – New Jersey Nets Vs Los Angeles Lakers – Featuring One of Shaquille O’Neal’s Greatest Games with 50 Pts
NBA – 1998 – Game of the Week Highlights – Utah Jazz Vs Los Angeles Lakers – Featuring Karl Malone Vs Shaquille O’Neal
With the tandem of O’Neal and teenage superstar Kobe Bryant, expectations for the Lakers increased…..however, personnel changes were a source of instability during the 1998–99 season…..as long-time Laker point guard Nick Van Exel was traded to the Denver Nuggets…..while 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 Lakers forward Kurt Rambis finished the season as head coach…..when the Lakers finished with a 31–19 record during the lockout-shortened season…..albeit they made the playoffs…..but were swept by the San Antonio Spurs…..who was led by Tim Duncan and David Robinson in the 2nd round of the Western Conference playoffs. The Spurs would go on to win their first NBA title in 1999.
NBA – 1999 – Game of the Week Highlights – Houston Rockets Vs Los Angeles Lakers – Featuring Shaq Daddy (O’Neal) Vs Sir Charles (Barkley)
NBA – 1999 – Game of the Week Highlights – New York Knicks Vs Los Angeles Lakers – Featuring Shaquille O’Neal Vs Patrick Ewing
NBA – 1999 – NBA Playoffs Round 2 Game 3 Highlights – Houston Rockets Vs Los Angeles Lakers – Featuring Shaquille O’Neal + Kobe Bryant (Lakers) & Scottie Pippen + Charles Barkley + Hakeem Olajuwon (Rockets)
In 1999, prior to the 1999–2000 season, the Lakers hired Phil Jackson as head coach…..and the team’s fortunes soon changed…..as Jackson immediately challenged O’Neal, telling him “the [NBA’s] MVP trophy should be named after him when he retired.”
NBA – 1999 – Western Conference Series Finals Game 4 Highlights – San Antonio Spurs Vs Los Angeles Lakers – Featuring Spurs Tim Duncan Vs Lakers Shaquille O’Neal
In the November 10, 1999 game against the Houston Rockets, O’Neal and Charles Barkley were ejected after O’Neal blocked a layup by Barkley….. and then Shaq Fu shoved Barkley…..who then threw the ball at O’Neal. On March 6, 2000, O’Neal’s 28th birthday, he scored a career-high 61 points to go along with 23 rebounds and 3 assists in a 123–103 win over the LA Clippers. O’Neal’s 61-point game is the most recent game in NBA history that a player scored 60 or more points without hitting a 3-pointer.
NBA – 2000 – Game of the Week (Full Game) – L A Clippers Vs L A Lakers – Featuring Lakers Shaquille O’Neal Scoring 61 Pts 28 Rebs
O’Neal was also voted the 1999–2000 regular season Most Valuable Player, one vote short of becoming the 1st unanimous MVP in NBA history. Fred Hickman, then of CNN, instead chose Allen Iverson, then of the Philadelphia 76ers…..who would go on to win MVP the next season. O’Neal also won the scoring title while finishing 2nd in rebounds and 3rd in blocked shots. Jackson’s influence resulted in a newfound commitment by O’Neal to defense, resulting in his 1st All-Defensive Team selection (2nd-team) in 2000.
NBA – 1999 / 2000 – GOAT SZN Highlights Special – “Shaquille O’Neal: 99-00 Season Highlights – Most Dominant Ever!”
NBA – 1972 To 2011 – Special Documentary – “How Good Was Shaq Actually?” – The Life and Career of Shaquille O’Neal
NBA – 1992 To 2011 – Special – “NBA Legends Explain How SCARY Good Shaquille O’Neal Was” – With Kobe Bryant + Allen Iverson + Kareem Abdule Jabbar + Dewayne Wade + Wilt Chamberlain et al
In the 2001 NBA Finals against the 76’ers, O’Neal fouled out in Game 3 backing over Dikembe Mutombo, the 2000–2001 Defensive Player of the Year. “I didn’t think the best defensive player in the game would be flopping like that. It’s a shame that the referees buy into that”, O’Neal said. “I wish he’d stand up and play me like a man instead of flopping and crying every time I back him down.”
NBA – 2001 – NBA Finals Game 3 Highlights – Phily 76’ers Vs L A Lakers – Featuring Dikembe Mutombo vs Shaquille O’Neal Epic Duel
NBA – 2001 – Special Footage – “Shaq Dunks on Mutombo and Does ‘Finger Wag'”
NBA – 2001 – NBA Finals Game 4 Highlights – Phily 76’ers Vs L A Lakers – Featuring 76’ers Allen Iverson vs Lakers Shaquille O’Neal
A month before the 2001–02 season’s training camp, O’Neal had corrective surgery for a claw toe deformity in the smallest toe of his left foot. He opted against a more involved surgery to return quicker. He was ready for the start of the 2001–02 regular season, but the toe frequently bothered him.
NBA – 2001 – NBA Finals Game 1 Highlights – Phily 76’s vs L A Lakers – With 76’ers Iverson with 48 Pts + Lakers O’neal with 44 Pts
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, resulting in a melee with Miller, forward Charles Oakley, and several other players. O’Neal was suspended for three games without pay and fined $15,000. For the season, O’Neal averaged 27.2 points and 10.7 rebounds, excellent statistics but below his career average…..plus, he was less of a defensive force during the season.
NBA – 2002 – Special Highlights – “Shaq Goes Wild With Intent To Inflict Pain on Bulls C Brad Miller”
Matched up against the Sacramento Kings in the 2002 Western Conference finals, O’Neal said, “There is only one way to beat us. It starts with c and ends with t.” O’Neal meant “cheat” in reference to the alleged flopping of Kings’ center Vlade Divac….Shaq Fu referred to Divac as “she”…..and said he would never exaggerate contact to draw a foul. “I’m a guy with no talent who has gotten this way with hard work.” After the 2001–2002 season, O’Neal told friends that he did not want another season of limping and being in virtually constant pain from his big right toe. His trademark mobility and explosion had been often absent. The corrective options ranged from reconstructive surgery on the toe to rehabilitation exercises with more shoe inserts and anti-inflammation medication. O’Neal was already wary of the long-term damage his frequent consumption of these medications might have. He did not want to rush a decision with his career potentially at risk.
NBA – 2021 – TNT Special – “Shaq’s Life: Passing The Torch”
Using Jackson’s triangle offense, O’Neal and Bryant enjoyed tremendous success, leading the Lakers to three consecutive titles (2000, 2001, and 2002). O’Neal was named MVP of the NBA Finals all three times and had the highest scoring average for a center in NBA Finals history.
NBA & Interview – 2015 – In Depth Graham Benzinger Presents – Interview With Shaquille O’Neal on “Chilling Out During Practice and How Phil Jackson Helped Him Win the MVP Award”
O’Neal missed the first 12 games of the 2002–03 season recovering from toe surgery. He was sidelined with hallux rigidus, a degenerative arthritis in his toe. He waited the whole summer until just before training camp for the surgery and explained, “I got hurt on company time, so I’ll heal on company time.” Shaqtous debated whether to have a more invasive surgery that would have kept him out an additional three months…..but he opted against the more involved procedure. The Lakers started the season with a record of 11–19…..and by the end of the season, the Lakers had fallen to the 5th seed and failed to reach the Finals in 2003.
NBA – 2016 – Basketball Hall of Fame Special – “Allen Iverson + Shaquille O’Neal + Yao Ming Funny Interview
For the 2003–04 season, the team made a concerted off-season effort to improve its roster. They sought the free-agent services of two aging stars—forward Karl Malone and guard Gary Payton—but due to salary cap restrictions, could not offer either player nearly as much money as he could have made with some other teams…..when O’Neal assisted in the recruitment efforts and personally persuaded both men to join the squad, each forgoing larger salaries in favor of a chance to win an NBA championship. At the beginning of the 2003–04 season, O’Neal wanted a contract extension with a pay raise on his remaining three years for $30 million. The Lakers had hoped O’Neal would take less money due to his age, physical conditioning, and games missed due to injuries. During a preseason game, O’Neal had yelled at Lakers owner Jerry Buss, “Pay me.” …..plus, there had been increasing tension between O’Neal and Bryant…..while the feud climaxed during training camp prior to the 2003–2004 season…..when Bryant, in an interview with ESPN journalist Jim Gray, criticized O’Neal for being out of shape, a poor leader and putting his salary demands over the best interest of the team.
NBA – 2003 / 04 Season – L A Lakers Special – “The Kobe And Shaq Beef Explained”
The Lakers made the playoffs in 2004 and lost to the Detroit Pistons in the 2004 NBA Finals. Lakers assistant coach Tex Winter said, “Shaq defeated himself against Detroit. He played way too passively. He had one big game … He’s always interested in being a scorer, but he hasn’t had nearly enough concentration on defense and rebounding”. After the series, 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 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 The Big Conductor promptly demanded a trade…..as Kupchak wanted the Dallas Mavericks‘ Dirk Nowitzki in return…..but Mavericks owner Mark Cuban refused to let his 7-footer go…..however, Miami showed interest, and eventually the two clubs agreed on a trade. Winter said, “[O’Neal] left because he couldn’t get what he wanted—a huge pay raise. There was no way ownership could give him what he wanted. Shaq’s demands held the franchise hostage, and the way he went about it didn’t please the owner too much.”
NBA & Interview – 2004 – TNT’s John Thompson Interviews Shaquille O’Neal – “Discusses His Lakers Departure Just Prior to First Year with Heat”
On July 14, 2004, O’Neal was traded to the Miami Heat for Caron Butler, Lamar Odom, Brian Grant and a future first-round draft choice (the Lakers used the draft choice to select Jordan Farmar in the 2006 draft). O’Neal reverted from (his Lakers jersey) # 34 to # 32…..which he had worn while playing for the Magic. Upon signing with the Heat, O’Neal promised the fans that he would bring a championship to Miami…..as he claimed one of the main reasons for wanting to be traded to Miami was because of their up-and-coming star Dwyane Wade…..to whom he gave the nickname “Flash”. With O’Neal on board, the new-look Heat surpassed expectations, claiming the best record in the Eastern Conference in 2004–05 with 59 wins. He played in 73 games, his most since 2001 season…..while averaging 22.9 points a game along with 10.4 rebounds and 2.3 blocks. The Big Baryshnikov made his 12th consecutive All-Star Team, made the All-NBA 1st Team and won the Eastern Conference Player of the Month award for his performance in March. O’Neal also narrowly lost the 2004–05 MVP Award to Phoenix Suns guard Steve Nash in one of the closest votes in NBA history.
NBA – 2004 / 05 – House of Highlights Special – “Kobe Bryant vs Shaquille O’Neal 1st Ever Duel After Their Split”
NBA & Interview – 2004 – Special – “Kobe Bryant (Age 26) & Shaquille O’Neal (Age 32) Interview”
NBA – 2004/05 – Game of the Week Highlights – Boston Celtics Vs Miami Heat – Featuring Shaquille O’Neal With 34 Pts 14 Rebs
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……where they lost by a narrow margin. Afterwards, O’Neal and others criticized Heat head coach Stan Van Gundy for not calling enough plays for O’Neal. then in August 2005, Shaq Daddy signed a 5-year-extension with the Heat for $100 million…..as 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 lesser players earned almost the same amount.
NBA – 2021 – Special – “Shaq Life: Community”
In the 2nd game of the 2005–06 season, O’Neal injured his right ankle and subsequently missed the following 18 games….and upon The Diesel’s return, Van Gundy resigned…..while citing family reasons…..and Pat Riley assumed head coach responsibilities. O’Neal later referred to Van Gundy as a “frontrunner” and a “master of panic.” Many critics stated that Heat coach Riley correctly managed O’Neal during the rest of the season, limiting his minutes to a career low…..as 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.
NBA – 2021 – Special – Shaq’s Life: Shaq Life: “Shaq Attends His Daughter’s Graduation”
NBA – 2021 – TNT Special – “Shaq Life: King of the Bahamas”
On April 11, 2006, O’Neal recorded his 2nd career triple-double against the Toronto Raptors with 15 points, 11 rebounds and a career-high 10 assists…..as O’Neal finished the 2005–06 season as the league leader in field goal percentage.
NBA – 2006 – NBA Playoffs Round 1 Game 2 Highlights – Chicago Bulls Vs Miami Heat – Throwback: Shaquille O’Neal & Dwyane Wade
In the 2006 NBA Playoffs, the Heat 1st faced the younger Chicago Bulls….. as O’Neal delivered a dominating 27 point, 16 rebound and 5 blocks performance in game 1…..which was followed by a 22-point effort in game 2 to help Miami take a 2–0 lead in the series…..then Chicago would respond with two dominating performances at home to tie the series…..but Miami would respond right back with a victory at home in game 5…..and when Miami returned to Chicago and closed out the series in the 6th game….. which was highlighted by another dominating performance by O’Neal who finished with 30 points and 20 rebounds. Miami advanced to face New Jersey in the Eastern Conference …..who won a surprising game 1 victory before the Heat won four straight to assure a rematch with Detroit in the finals. The Pistons had no answer for Wade throughout the series…..while O’Neal delivered 21 points and 12 rebounds in game 3….which was followed by 27 points and 12 boards in game 4 to help Miami take a 3–2 series lead. The Pistons would win game 5 in Detroit…..and Wade would once again get injured…..but the Heat held on to win game 6 with O’Neal scoring 28 points with 16 rebounds and 5 blocks to help Miami reach their 1st-ever NBA Finals.
NBA – 2006 – Miami Heat Special – “Miami Heat – NBA Championship Season”
NBA – 2006 – Eastern Conference Finals Game 6 Highlights – Detroit Pistons Vs Miami Heat – Featuring Shaquille O’Neal with 28 Pts 16 Rebs 5 Blks
NBA – 2006 – NBA Playoffs Round 1 Game 2 Highlights – Chicago Bulls Vs Miami Heat – “Throwback Special: Shaquille O’Neal & Dwyane Wade Dismantle The Chicago Bulls”
NBA – 2006 – Eastern Conference Finals Game 3 Highlights – Detroit Pistons Vs Miami Heat – Featuring Shaquille O’Neal with 28 Pts / 12 Rebs / 7 Asst / 4 Blks
In the Finals, the Heat were underdogs against the Dallas Mavericks led by Dirk Nowitzki…..and the Mavericks won the first two games at home in dominating fashion…..then the Heat led by Wade and a balanced effort by O’Neal, Antoine Walker and Jason Williams would go on to win all three of the next games at home…..before closing out the series in Dallas to deliver the 1st NBA title for the franchise and O’Neal’s 4th title. With Wade carrying the offensive load, O’Neal did not need to have a dominating series…..and finished with an average of 13.7 points and 10.2 rebounds for the series.
NBA – 2006 – NBA Finals Game 6 Highlights – Dallas Mavericks Vs Miami Heat – Featuring Mavs Dirk Novitski & Heat Dwayne Wade + Shaquille O’Neal
In the 2006–07 season, O’Neal missed 35 games after an injury to his left knee in November required surgery. After one of those missed games, a Christmas Day match-up against the Lakers, he ripped Jackson, who O’Neal had once called a 2nd father, referring to his former coach as “Benedict Arnold“. Jackson had previously said, “The only person I’ve ever [coached] that hasn’t been a worker… is probably Shaq.” The Heat struggled during O’Neal’s 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 doubted that O’Neal, now in his mid-30s, could carry the team into the playoffs. The Heat went on a winning streak that kept them in the race for a playoff spot….. which they finally secured against the Cleveland Cavaliers on April 5.
NBA – 2006 / 07 -NBA TV Special – “Top 10 Plays of Miami Heat C Shaquille O’Neal”
In a rematch of the year before, the Heat faced the Bulls in the 1st round of the 2006–07 NBA playoffs…..as the Heat struggled against the Bulls…..albeit O’Neal put up reasonable numbers, he was not able to dominate the series…..which the Bulls swept…..and was the 1st time in 50 years a defending NBA champion was swept in the opening round…..as well as the 1st time in 13 years that O’Neal did not advance into the 2nd round. In the 2006–07 season O’Neal reached 25,000 career points…..thus becoming the 14th player in NBA history to accomplish that milestone…..however, it was the 1st season in O’Neal’s career that his scoring average dropped below 20 points per game.
NBA – 2006 / 07 – Game of the Week – L A Lakers Vs Miami Heat – Featuring Magic C Shaquille O’Neal vs Laker C Andrew Bynum
NBA – 2006 / 07 – Miami Heat Special – “NBA Action: Top 10 Plays Of Shaquille O’Neal 2006-2007 Season”
O’Neal experienced a rough start for the 2007–08 season, averaging career lows in points, rebounds, and blocks. His role in the offense diminished…..as he attempted only 10 field goals per game versus his career average of 17. In addition, O’Neal was plagued by fouls…..with one stretch where he fouled out of five consecutive games. O’Neal’s streak of 14 straight All-Star appearances ended that season…..as Shaq again missed games due to injuries…..while the Heat had a 15–game losing streak. According to O’Neal, Riley thought he was faking the injury. During a practice in February 2008, O’Neal got into an altercation with Riley over the coach ordering a tardy Jason Williams to leave practice. The two argued face-to-face, with O’Neal poking Riley in the chest and Riley slapping his finger away…..when soon after, Riley decided to trade O’Neal…..while O’Neal said his relationship with Wade was not “all that good” by the time he left Miami…..but he did not express disappointment at Wade for failing to stand up for him.
NBA – 2017 – TNT Special – Shaquille O’Neal Interview With Ernie Johnson – “Shaq On Miami TIME w Dwyane Wade and Pat Riley”
O’Neal played 33 games for the Miami Heat in the 2007–08 season prior to being traded to the Phoenix Suns. O’Neal started all 33 games and averaged 14.2 points per game. Following the trade to Phoenix, O’Neal averaged 12.9 points while starting all 28 games with the Suns.
NBA – 2008 – Phoenix Suns Special Highlights – “Superman Shaq Dives Into The Crowd at San Antonio and Clears Bench in Memphis”
The Phoenix Suns acquired O’Neal in February 2008 from the league-worst Miami Heat…..who had a record at the time of the trade of 9–37, in exchange for Shawn Marion and Marcus Banks. O’Neal made his Suns debut on February 20, 2008, against his former Lakers team…..while scoring 15 points and grabbing 9 rebounds in the process…..as 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.”
NBA – 2008 – Game of the Week – Lakers Vs Suns – “The Big Aristotle’s Suns Debut Against Kobe and His Old Team”
In 28 regular season games, O’Neal averaged 12.9 points and 10.6 rebounds…..which was good enough to make the playoffs…..cuz one of the reasons for the trade was to limit Tim Duncan in the event of a postseason matchup between the Suns and the San Antonio Spurs…..especially after the Suns’ six-game elimination by the Spurs in the 2007 NBA Playoffs. O’Neal and the Phoenix Suns did face the Spurs in the 1st round of the playoffs….. but they were once again eliminated in five games…..with O’Neal averaging 15.2 points, 9.2 rebounds and 1.0 assists per game.
NBA – 2008 – Phoenix Suns Highlight Special – “Shaquille O’Neal Suns Highlights Mix”
O’Neal preferred his new situation with the Suns over the Heat. “I love playing for this coach and I love playing with these guys”, O’Neal said. “We have professionals who know what to do. No one is asking me to play with [his former Heat teammates] Chris Quinn or Ricky Davis. I’m actually on a team again.” Riley felt O’Neal was wrong for maligning his former teammates…..to which O’Neal responded with an expletive toward Riley, whom he often referred to as the “great Pat Riley” while playing for the Heat. O’Neal credited the Suns training staff with prolonging his career…..when they connected his arthritic toe, which would not bend, to the alteration of his jump that consequently was straining his leg. The trainers had him concentrate on building his core strength, flexibility, and balance.
NBA – 2008 – Phoenix Suns Special – “Shaquille O’Neal Top 10 Phoenix Suns Plays”
The 2008–09 season improved for O’Neal, who averaged 18 points, 9 rebounds, and 1.6 blocks through the 1st 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, beating the Toronto Raptors 133–113.
NBA – 2009 – Game of the Week – Phoenix Suns Vs Toronto Rapters – Featuring Shaquille O’Neal with 45 Pts 18 Rebs 8 Asst 4 Blks
In a matchup against Orlando on March 3, 2009, O’Neal was outscored by Magic center Dwight Howard, 21–19. “I’m really too old to be trying to outscore 18-year-olds”, O’Neal said, referring to the then 23-year-old Howard. “It’s not really my role anymore.” O’Neal was double-teamed most of the night. “I like to play people one-on-one. My whole career I had to play people one-on-one. Never once had to double or ask for a double. But it’s cool”, said O’Neal. During the game, O’Neal flopped against Howard. Magic coach Stan Van Gundy, who had coached O’Neal with the Heat, was “very disappointed cause [O’Neal] knows what it’s like. Let’s stand up and play like men, and I think our guy did that tonight.” O’Neal responded, “Flopping is playing like that your whole career. I was trying to take the charge, trying to get a call. It probably was a flop, but flopping is the wrong use of words. Flopping would describe his coaching.” Mark Madsen, a Lakers teammate of O’Neal’s for three years, found it amusing since “everyone in the league tries to flop on Shaq and Shaq never flops back.” In a 2006 interview in TIME, O’Neal said if he were NBA commissioner, he would “Make a guy have to beat a guy—not flop and get calls and be nice to the referees and kiss ass.”
NBA – 2009 – Epic Big Men Duel Highlights Special – “The Game The Old Man Schooled The Young Pup” or “Superman Vs Wanna Be Superman” – Featuring Heat C Shaquille O’Neal Schooled Magic C Dwight Howard
NBA – 2009 – NBA Highlight Special – 76’ers Vs Heat – Featuring Shaq Dunk Over Mutombo
On March 6, O’Neal talked about the upcoming game against the Rockets and Yao Ming. “It’s not going to be man-on-man, so don’t even try that,” says O’Neal with an incredulous laugh. “They’re going to double and triple me like everybody else … I rarely get to play [Yao] one-on-one … But when I play him (on defense), it’s just going to be me down there. So don’t try to make it a Yao versus Shaq thing, when it’s Shaq versus four other guys.”
NBA – 2009 To 2011 – ld2kVIDEOS Highlights Special – “Shaq Vs Yao”
NBA – 2003 – Game of the Week Highlights – Lakers Vs Rockets – “The Game Shaquille O’Neal Met Rookie Yao Ming For The 1st Time
The 2009 NBA Playoffs was also the 1st time since O’Neal’s rookie season in 1992–93 that he did not participate in the playoffs. He was named as a member of the All-NBA Third Team. The Suns notified O’Neal he might be traded to cut costs.
NBA – 1992 To 2011 – All Star Game Highlights Special – “Shaquille O’Neal Top 10 All Star Plays”
On June 25, 2009, O’Neal was traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers for Sasha Pavlovic, Ben Wallace, $500,000, and a 2010 second-round draft pick. Upon arriving in Cleveland, O’Neal said, “My motto is very simple: Win a Ring for the King”, referring to LeBron James. James was the leader of the team, and O’Neal deferred to him. On February 25, 2010, O’Neal suffered a severe right thumb injury while attempting to go up for a shot against Glen Davis of the Boston Celtics…..when he had surgery on the thumb on March 1st…..and returned to play in time for the 1st round of the playoffs…..when after taking down the Chicago Bulls in the 1st round…..that is when the Cavaliers went on to lose to the Boston Celtics in the 2nd round. In September 2016, O’Neal said: “When I was in Cleveland, we were in 1st place…..then Big Baby [Glen Davis] breaks my hand…..and I had to sit out five weeks late in the year. I come back finally in the 1st round of the playoffs…..and we lost to Boston in the 2nd round. I was upset. I know for a fact if I was healthy, we would have gotten it done that year and won a ring.” O’Neal averaged career lows in almost every major statistical category during the 2009–10 season, taking on a much less significant role than in previous years.
NBA – 2009 / ’10 – Cleveland Cavaliers Highlights Special – “Shaquille O’Neal and LeBron James as Teammates”
NBA – 2009 / ’10 – Cleveland Cavaliers Highlights Special – “Shaquille O’Neal Cleveland Cavaliers Career Highlights”
NBA – 2003 – Lakers Highlights Special – Game of the Week – Celtics Vs Lakers – Featuring Shaquille O’Neal with 48 Pts 12 Rebs
O’Neal said he did not “compete with little guys who run around dominating the ball, throwing up 30 shots a night—like D–Wade, Kobe.” O’Neal added that he was only competing against Duncan: “If Tim Duncan gets five rings, then that gives some writer the chance to say ‘Duncan is the best,’ and I can’t have that.” Publicly, he insisted he did not care whether he started or substituted for the Celtics…..but expected to be part of the 2nd unit. Privately, he wanted to start, but kept it to himself. O’Neal missed games throughout the season due to an assortment of ailments to his right leg including knee, calf, hip and Achilles injuries. The Celtics traded away center Kendrick Perkins in February partially due to the expectation that O’Neal would return to fill Perkins’ role. The Celtics were 33–10 in games Perkins had missed during the year due to injury…..and they were 19–3 in games that O’Neal played over 20 minutes. After requesting a cortisone shot, O’Neal returned April 3 after missing 27 games due to his Achilles…..as he played only five minutes due to a strained right calf. It was the last regular season game he would play that year. O’Neal missed the 1st round of the 2011 playoffs…..when he insisted on more cortisone shots and returned in the 2nd round…..but he was limited to 12 minutes in two games as the Heat eliminated the Celtics from the playoffs.
NBA – 2010 / ’11 – NBA.com Highlights Special – Boston Celtics Vs New Jersey Nets – Featuring Shaq The Big Leprachaun with 25 Pts 11 Rebs
NBA – 2011 – Boston Celtics Highlights Special – “Shaquille O’Neal’s last game in NBA vs Heat”
NBA – 2011 – Boston Celtics Highlights Special – “Shaquille O’Neal Boston Celtics Retirement Mix Highlight Reel”
On June 1, 2011, O’Neal announced his retirement via social media. On a short video on Twitter, O’Neal tweeted, “We did it. Nineteen years, baby. I want to thank you very much. That’s why I’m telling you first. I’m about to retire. Love you. Talk to you soon.” On June 3, 2011, O’Neal held a press conference at his home in Orlando to officially announce his retirement.
NBA – June 1, 2001 – NBA Special – “Shaquille O’Neal Retirement Speech Announcement”
While in college, O’Neal was considered for the Dream Team to fill the college spot…..but it eventually went to future teammate Christian Laettner. His national team career began in the 1994 FIBA World Championship…..in which he was named MVP of the Tournament. While he led the Dream Team II to the gold medal with an 8–0 record, O’Neal averaged 18 points and 8.5 rebounds and recorded two double-doubles…..whereas in four games, he scored more than 20 points. Before 2010, he was the last active American player to have a gold from the FIBA World Cup.
Olympics – 1996 – The Atlanta Games Highlights Special – “Shaquille O’Neal USA Dream Team II Moments”
Olympics – 1996 – The Atlanta Games Mens Basketball (Full Game) – USA Vs China – Featuring Shaquille O’Neal + Karl Malone + Charles Barkley + Hakeem Olajuwon + Grant Hill et al
FIBA & NBA – 1994 – FIBA Basketball World Cup Finals (Full Game) – USA Vs Russia – Featuring USA C Shaquille O’Neal
He was one of two players (the other being Reggie Miller) from the 1994 roster to be also named to the Dream Team III…..when due to more star-power, he rotated with Hakeem Olajuwon and David Robinson…..and started 3 games…..as he averaged 9.3 points and 5.3 rebounds with 8 total blocks. Again, a perfect 8–0 record landed him another gold medal at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta. O’Neal was upset that coach Lenny Wilkens played Robinson more minutes in the final game…..while Wilkens previously explained to O’Neal that it would probably be Robinson’s last Olympics.
NBA & Talk Shows – 2019 – E! News Daily Pop Show with Guest Hostess Rocsi – As Shaquille O’Neal Shoots His Shot With Rocsi
Part 2 of Tribute To The Legend Of Shaquille O’Neal Is On the Next Post (What He Has Done After Playing Years)