• Position: C
  • Height: 7-1 / 2,16
  • Weight: 338 lbs. / 153,3 kg.
  • Team: L.A. Lakers
  • Jersey: #34

Born March 6th, 1972, Shaquille O'Neal is a man who needs very little by way of introduction. He is a 9 time NBA All-Star, has won three NBA Championships, was the youngest player named to the list of the NBA's 50 Greatest Players, and even Shaq haters such as myself have to admit that he likely deserves the league MVP award just about every year, but doesn't get it because David Stern probably thinks that would be unfair.

O'Neal attended Louisiana State University, where he averaged 21.6 ppg, 13.5 rpg, and 4.6 bpg. His career field goal percentage was a blistering 61%, and he registered 73 double-doubles in 90 games. Shaq was named First team All-America after both his sophomore and junior seasons, and was named Player of the Year by Sports Illustrated, Associated Press, and UPI. As a junior, he led the NCAA in blocked shots, and became the first player to lead the Southeasten Conference in rebounding for three consecutive years since Charles Barkley.

O'Neal left LSU in 1992 after his junior year. In the 1992 NBA Draft, he went first overall to the Orlando Magic. At the end of his first season, Shaq had averaged 23.4 ppg, 13.9 rpg, and 3.53 bpg. He bagged the NBA Rookie of the Year Award, and also became the first player in the NBA's history to be named Player of the Week in the very first week of his career. After 3 years with Orlando, O'Neal was picked up as a free agent by the Los Angeles Lakers.

So far, Shaq has won three NBA titles, has earned All-NBA honors eight times (First Team in 1997-98, 1999-2000 and 2000-01; Second Team in 1994-95 and 1998-99; and Third Team in 1993-94, 1995-96 and 1996-97), won a gold medal at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, and another at the World Championships in 1994 in Toronto. He has also appeared in a number of films and television shows, and has recorded 5 rap albums (although word has it they aren't any good). He was named league MVP in 1999-2000, and NBA Finals MVP three years running. His career averages are an impressive 27.6 ppg, 12.2 rpg, 2.63 bpg, with a field goal percentage of 57.7%. This is marred only by his abysmal 53.3% free throw average.

Lesser Known Facts about Shaq:

  • The only year in his career that Shaq wasn't an All Star was 1999, when there was no All-Star game.
  • He is third on the all-time career average scoring list behind only Michael Jordan (31.5 ppg) and Wilt Chamberlain (30.1 ppg).
  • When Shaq retires from basketball, he intends to enter a career in law enforcement, or in his own words: "I want people to say, 'Great high school player, great college player, great NBA player. And that sumbitch is a sheriff now!' I don't want them saying 'Great player. That sumbitch is doing TNT now.'"
  • Shaq has 4 kids. The youngest two (Amirah Sanaa aged 1, and Shareef aged 2) are his children with his long-term girlfriend Shaunie Nelson, while Myles (4) is Shaunie's from a previous relationship, and Taahirah (5) is Shaq's from a previous involvement.
  • Shaq has both nipples pierced.
  • Shaq wears size 22 shoes.
  • Although Shaq himself isn't a Muslim, his name Shaquille Rashaun is Arabic for "Little Warrior". O'Neal's mother Lucille is a Baptist, while his stepfather Phil is a Muslim. Shaq plans to one day make a pilgrimmage to Mecca with his stepfather, and holds Muslims such as Hidayet Turkoglu of the Sacramento Kings, who he greeted with a hug during the Sacramento-LA series in 2001-02, in the highest esteem possible.
  • Shaq's hobbies are riding motorcycles, and target shooting.
  • Shaq also has a clothing line and record label called TWIsM.
  • Although Shaq was born in New Jersey, he owns two properties in Florida and plans to retire there.
  • As Shaq-a-Claus, he purchased toys to distribute at Christmas to disadvantaged Central Florida youths, and also dressed up as Shaq-a-Bunny for Easter.
  • As the Laker bus departed from Arco Arena following Sacramento's Game 7 loss in the 2001-2002 NBA Western Conference Finals, Shaq mooned hundreds of heartbroken Kings fans as a farewell gesture.
  • During that series, when Kings coach Rick Adelman complained that Shaq was being allowed to step over the line too early following his free throws, Shaq sent him the following poem:"Don't cry/Dry your eyes/Here comes Shaq/With those four little guys". The following night O'Neal made 12 of 14 foul shots in a 106-83 Laker victory.

Sports Illustrated vol. 96, no. 25

and thanks to mauler for pointing out some errors