Shaquille O’Neal was the most dominant big man in the National Basketball Association and arguably the single most dominant force to ever appear in the league during his prime. When Shaq was at his best and most physically fit, no one defender could stop him when O’Neal made his way into the paint with possession of the basketball. O’Neal was a naturally gifted athlete, no doubt about it, but he also put in the necessary work to evolve into a center unlike any other pro who had played before him. Not since the days of Shaq has the game seen such a one-man.
O’Neal was also an intelligent athlete who did well to have smart people in his camp. Those individuals capitalized on the popularity of O’Neal among basketball fans, and the player secured acting gigs and also rap deals. Like Chicago Bulls superstar and NBA royalty Michael Jordan, Shaq also had his own shoe and his own clothing line, and O’Neal’s booming personality made him somewhat of a comic book hero in real life for younger fans who could not imagine ever growing to be as large – both in stature and in character – than was the player during his days with the Orlando Magic, Los Angeles Lakers, Miami Heat, Boston Celtics and Cleveland Cavaliers.
It has been several years since O’Neal featured as an active player in the NBA, and he now works as a television analyst. Much of what O’Neal achieved during his all-time great career – most notably the championships that he won while playing with and then against a certain teammate with whom he feuded – is common knowledge to even casual fans who do not follow the NBA on a daily basis. With that said, there are certain stats and also other information about Shaq that may surprise even diehard supporters who watched O’Neal from his college days up through the conclusion of his NBA career.
10. Shaq Missed Half His Free Throws
The “Hack-a-Shaq” tactic of defending that involved players purposely fouling O’Neal so that he would not get a guaranteed bucket when underneath the rim was not only commonplace during his prime. It was also proven to be effective. O’Neal was downright atrocious from the charity stripe, converting less than 53 percent (52.7 percent to be exact) of his regular season attempts. O’Neal shot over 60 percent from the line in just one campaign during his 19-year NBA career. When at his worst, O’Neal would miss nearly six of his ten free throw attempts. Maybe he should have tried going old-school and attempted such shots underhanded.
9. He’s in the Top 20 for Free Throws Converted
As was noted earlier in this piece, O’Neal was more often than not a disaster from the free-throw line. He is also currently in the top-20 for the most free-throws converted in the history of the NBA, sitting at 19 in the list. The reason O’Neal made so many of those attempts during his career, 5,935 to be exact, is because he was fouled so much, especially during his best days in the league. Only Karl Malone (13,188) and Wilt Chamberlain (11,862) attempted more free-throw shots than did O’Neal (11,252) during their NBA careers. No current player is even close to catching Shaq in this category.
8. Shaq Has a Platinum Album
O’Neal was notorious for enjoying his fame and his successes, and that included embracing opportunities outside of the world of basketball. Shaq jumped into the rap game in 1993, and while he was mocked by some fans and those who work in late-night television, he found more success than some would have imagined. His debut album entitled Shaq Diesel went platinum, shipping/selling over one million copies. It may be difficult to imagine two decades after the fact, but O’Neal was a legitimate rap star for a period of time as it pertained to sales. That is not something many pro athletes can brag about.
7. Shaq is a Huge WWE Fan
O’Neal is not just your average viewer of World Wrestling Entertainment broadcasts. Shaq is a massive fan of the product, and he has appeared on WWE Raw multiple times, one of which included an in-ring confrontation with The Big Show. There was even a time when it was heavily rumored among wrestling journalists that the WWE was going to sign O’Neal for a WrestleMania match that would have him face off with Show. That, unfortunately for wrestling fans, did not occur, but there is always the hope that he could make his official in-ring debut at some point down the road.
6. Shaq Made One Career Three Pointer
There is a reason that big men such as O’Neal rarely attempt three-point shots during their careers. It often end poorly for them. Shaq attempted a registered 22 shots from beyond the arc during his regular season NBA playing days. He converted just one of them. That is good for a whopping 4.5 percent success rate from three-point land for O’Neal. One cannot help but wonder: What exactly was O’Neal thinking and/or trying to prove in those 22 instances of his life? Stick to what you are good at, athletes, and try to not go beyond that during games that matter to your teams.
5. Shaq Loves MMA
Along with being involved in the world of fake fighting and all that revolves around World Wrestling Entertainment, O’Neal is also an avid follower of mixed martial arts. He began training in MMA while he was an active pro basketball player, and has publicly stated that he desires to have a legitimate fight against a respected opponent. O’Neal turned 43 years old earlier this year, and anybody who has seen him on television knows that – no disrespect intended – Shaq’s days of being in his physical prime disappeared some time ago. Don’t hold your breath waiting for O’Neal to enter the cage as a fighter.
4. He’s a U.S. Deputy Marshal
O’Neal is one law enforcement official that a criminal definitely does not want to see coming after him. Shaq was interested in being a police officer even during his days as a NBA player, and he has trained with officers in Los Angeles. O’Neal was named an honorary United States Deputy Marshal in March of 2005, and it was then when he was named the spokesman for the Safe Surfin’ Foundation. That organization created by law enforcement works to make sure that children who utilize the Internet remain safe and guarded from potential predators. Shaq has also trained with police in Miami.
3. The Kobe vs. Shaq Feud Was Real
There are instances in sports where certain feuds are hyped up by the media to be bigger than they actually are. That was not the case with O’Neal and former teammate Kobe Bryant, and their wars overs the years have been well-documented. They reportedly got into physical altercations during practices. It was alleged that O’Neal was jealous of Kobe’s popularity among some fans and vice-versa. They both took shots at each other’s personal lives when speaking with reporters. It is believed that they have patched things up to the point that they do not hate each other, but O’Neal and Bryant probably won’t be spending Christmas together anytime soon.
2. He Was Fined by the Screen Actors Guild
O’Neal was likely over the moon in the spring of 2000. The regular season Most Valuable Player had won his first NBA Championship with the Los Angeles Lakers, and he was named MVP for the NBA Finals. As part of his celebrations, O’Neal filmed one of those well-known “I’m going to Disneyland” television spots that have been made famous by the National Football League. The problem was that there was a Screen Actors Guild strike at the time, and O’Neal had, in filming the ad, crossed the picket line. The player who had made several acting appearances over the years was fined for his crime.
1. Shaq Takes Education Seriously
Although he left college early for the NBA as do so many pro athletes, O’Neal has taken his education very seriously over the years. He completed the necessary work to earn his Bachelor’s Degree, and O’Neal also earned a legitimate doctoral degree toward the end of his playing career. There’s more. O’Neal has also publicly claimed that he wants to attend law school, perhaps during the league’s offseason when he is not working as a television analyst. That is all very impressive for a man who is more than financially secure and set for jobs for the rest of his life.
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