Wednesday, June 1, 2011
Shaq's legacy by the numbers
By ESPN Stats & Info
Shaquille O'Neal, the oldest current player in the NBA at 39 years old, is retiring after 19 NBA seasons. Trying to wrap your arms around the man's NBA legacy is about as easy as it was to contain him in the post during his prime, but we'll try.
O’Neal is retiring with the fifth-most points scored in NBA history. In addition, O’Neal has scored 5,250 postseason points in his career, fourth-most all-time. The only men ahead of him on both lists are Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Michael Jordan.
Shaquille O’Neal was an MVP (2000), a three-time Finals MVP (2000, 2001, 2002), a three-time All-Star Game MVP (2000, 2004, 2009) and four-time NBA Champion (2000, 2001, 2002, 2006). He won each of those during the 1999-00 season, which is a pretty unique accomplishment in NBA lore.
Only two other men can say they accomplished those things in a single season: Willis Reed in '69-70 with the New York Knicks and Michael Jordan in 1995-96 and 1997-98.
If you are looking for something unique that he accomplished, consider this: O’Neal averaged 20 points and 10 rebounds during 13 separate seasons. No other player was able to accomplish that level of consistent excellence.
He also led the NBA in field goal percentage 10 times. No one ever topped that as Wilt Chamberlain led the league in that category nine times.
Detractors are quick to note Shaq's Achilles' heel. O’Neal shot 52.7 percent from the free throw line for his career. That's the third-worst in NBA history among those players with 2,000 attempts. Only Chamberlain and Ben Wallace were worse.
Those facts were not enough to prevent O'Neal from becoming one of the most efficient players in NBA history. The highest Player Efficiency Ratings (PER) ever belongs to Jordan at 27.9. Another active player currently in his prime resides in second on that list -- LeBron James at 26.9. And third all-time is Shaq (26.4) just ahead of legends like David Robinson and Chamberlain.
Still for many, Shaquille O’Neal will go down as an entertainer. He appeared as himself on more than 100 movies and television shows including Saturday Night Live, Who Wants to Be a Millonaire, WWE Monday Night Raw and Curb Your Enthusiasm. He's also been the star of his own network shows such as Shaq vs and Shaq’s Big Challenge. On the silver screen, he was a central character in three movies -- Blue Chips, Kazaam and Steel.
Yes, Shaq was a star in every sense of the world. He was selected to the All-Star Game 15 times while playing in 12. Only one player in NBA history has been selected to more All-Star Games and he was a pretty visible entertainer in his own right: Abdul-Jabbar.