Miami Heat Player Countdown: 15. Shaquille O'Neal

A review of the largest man to ever wear the Heat uniform, 14-time all-star, four time NBA Champion, three time NBA Finals MVP and 1999-00 NBA MVP, center Shaquille O'Neal.

Shaquille O'Neal, also known as "Shaq," "The Big Aristotle," and "Diesel,"is the biggest dude to ever suit up for Miami. The 7'1", 325 behemoth was born on March 6th, 1972 (he wasn't that big when he was born...duh) in Newark, NJ. After playing his way onto the McDonald's All American squad while attending Cole High in San Antonio, TX, he started for three seasons with the LSU Tigers. He earned the NCAA AP Player of the Year Award in 1990-91 as a sophomore, and averaged 26 points with 14.5 rebounds his last two collegiate seasons. He declared himself eligible for the NBA draft early, and at the age of 20 was drafted first overall by the foundering Orlando Magic.

O'Neal played four seasons with the Magic, earning all-star honors each time and selection as the NBA Rookie of the Year in 1992-93. Over 295 regular season contests, he averaged 27.2 points, 12.5 rebounds, 2.8 blocks and 2.4 assists per game. He also figured heavily into the Magic's postseason success, scoring 25.3 points with 11.4 boards, 3.7 helpers and 1.8 rejections per game over 36 contests. He followed this up with eight seasons on the Los Angeles Lakers, earning seven all-star selections, the 1999-00 NBA MVP Award, and three consecutive NBA Championships, beginning in 1999-00. He won the NBA Finals MVP Award in each of his three appearances. In 514 regular season games, he averaged 27 points, 12 rebounds, three assists and 2.5 blocks per game. Shaq led the NBA in field goal percentage six times while in LA, leading the league in with 29.7 points per game in 1994-95. He kicked it up even further in the postseason, scoring 28 points with 13.4 rebounds, 2.5 blocks and three assists per game, over 122 contests.

Prior to the 2004-05 season, O'Neal was traded to the Heat for Caron Butler, Brian Grant, Lamar Odom, and two draft picks (Jordan Farmar and Renaldas Seibutis). Upon joining the Heat, he was quoted:

Remember this—I’m going to bring a championship to Miami. I promise.

His first season in Miami would see him start in each of his 73 appearances, leading the NBA with a 60.1% field goal rate. He scored 22.9 points (team second) with a team best 10.4 boards (NBA sixth), 2.7 assists (team third), and a team leading 2.3 blocks (NBA sixth) in 34.1 minutes per game. He made his 12th career all-star appearance, and for Miami failed to finish in double digits only once, with 43 double doubles. Miami posted a 53-20 record with Shaq in the rotation. On January 12th, he doubled a double-double, scoring 23 points with 21 rebounds and four assists in a loss to the San Antonio Spurs, 93-84. He racked up a season high 40 points, shooting 15-for-23 on December 13th, adding 12 rebounds and five blocks in a 106-83 triumph over the Washington Wizards. On February 7th, he poured in 27 points with 14 rebounds and a season high six assists in a win against the Golden State Warriors, 105-96. Miami earned a 59-23 record, qualifying for the playoffs with the top seed in the Eastern Conference. Miami made quick work of their first two opponents, sweeping the New Jersey Nets and the Wizards before losing the Eastern Conference Championship to the Detroit Pistons in seven games. In 13 playoff appearances, O'Neal averaged 19.4 points, 7.8 rebounds, 1.9 assists and 1.5 blocks per game.

In 2005-06, O'Neal started 58 games, appearing once off the bench. He again led the league with a 60% field goal percentage, scoring 20 points (team second) in 30.6 minutes per contest. He also chipped in a team best 9.2 rebounds, 1.9 assists, and 1.8 blocks (team second) per game. He finished in double figures 57 times (97%), registering 24 double doubles and helping the Heat to a 42-17 record while in the rotation. He earned another spot in the all-star game, his 13th. In a 115-106 victory over the Seattle SuperSonics on February 25th, he shot 15-of-16 from the floor, racking up 31 points with nine rebounds, four assists and four blocks. On March 6th, he scored a season high 35 points on 16-for-23 shooting with a dozen rebounds in an overtime win over the Charlotte Bobcats, 106-105. He put up a triple double in 28 minutes, scoring 15 points with 11 rebounds and 10 assists on April 11th, in a win over the Toronto Raptors, 106-97. Miami went 52-30 in the regular season, then won 16 more times (against seven losses) in the playoffs to capture their first (and Shaq's fourth) NBA title. Shaq's best game came on May 4th, in game six of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals against the Chicago Bulls. He scored 30 points with 20 rebounds and five assists. The Bulls lost 113-96 and were eliminated from contention.

O'Neal played in his 14th career all-star game in 2006-07, and his third for the Heat in three seasons. He was limited by injury to 40 games, starting 39 and playing for 28.4 minutes per game. He shot 59.1% from the field, grabbing 7.4 rebounds with two assists and 1.4 blocks per game. He put up eight double doubles, and scored in double figures 36 times (90% of the time). Miami went 25-15 with O'Neal, and 19-23 without him. From February 28th through March 9th, he shot 67.9% in five contests (all wins), averaging 25 points, 10.4 rebounds, 4.4 assists and 1.2 blocks per game. Although Miami made it to the playoffs, they were swept out of the opening round by the Chicago Bulls. Shaq averaged 19 points with nine rebounds through the series.

In 2007-08, O'Neal started 33 games for the Heat, scoring 14.2 points in 28.6 minutes per game. He shot 58.1% from the field, with 7.8 rebounds, 1.6 blocks and 1.4 helpers per contest. On February 6th, the Heat traded him to the Phoenix Suns for Marcus Banks and Shawn Marion.

O'Neal played 103 games for the Suns over the next two seasons before joining the Cleveland Cavaliers (53 games) and the Boston Celtics (37 games) to close out his career after the 2010-11 season. He currently is an analyst on Inside the NBA. HT to www.shaqquotes.com.

I’m tired of hearing about money, money, money, money, money. I just want to play the game, drink Pepsi, wear Reebok.

All-Time HEATline: Four seasons, 205 games, 31.1 minutes, 19.6 points, 9.1 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 0.8 steals, 1.9 blocks, 23.1 PER, 23.6 win shares.

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