NBA Legends: Shaquille O’Neal
In 1996, voting was carried out to decide upon the 50 greatest ever NBA players. At the time, eleven of the players named were active NBA ballers. As of 2015, only one is still active: Shaquille O’Neal. Often referred to by his nickname, a shortened version of his first name (Shaq), O’Neal has recently become the oldest active player in the league – and he has been big news ever since he first entered the league back in 1992. “Big” is the perfect choice of word, in fact, as Shaq stands at 7′ 1 and has weighed as much as 325 during his career – making him one of the heaviest pro basketball players ever to play the game.
O’Neal began his career with the Orlando Magic, being selected with the first pick of that year’s NBA Draft. His size and scoring ability were desperately needed by the Magic, at that time a franchise of little note, and in his second season O’Neal was instrumental in taking the Magic to their first-ever playoff appearance. They would go all the way to the NBA Finals in his third season in 1994, where they would eventually be defeated in a 4-0 series sweep by the Houston Rockets.
It would take a move to the Los Angeles Lakers for O’Neal to finally experience the ultimate team achievement in basketball, winning the NBA Championship in 2000. The Lakers would repeat this achievement in 2001 and 2002, due in no small part to the contribution of Shaq.