Shaquille O'Neal NBA career
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Shaquille O'Neal NBA career
Orlando Magic (1992–1996)
The Orlando Magic drafted O'Neal with the 1st overall pick in the 1992 NBA draft. In the summer before moving to Orlando, he spent time in Los Angeles under the tutelage of Hall of Famer Magic Johnson. O'Neal wore number 32 because Terry Catledge refused to relinquish the 33 jersey.
In 1993–1994, O'Neal's second season, Hill was the coach and Guokas was reassigned to the front office.
In O'Neal's third season, 1994–95, he led the NBA in scoring with a 29.3 point average, while finishing second in MVP voting to David Robinson and entering his third straight All-Star Game along with Hardaway. They formed one of the league's top duos and helped Orlando to a 57–25 record and the Atlantic Division crown. The Magic won their first ever playoff series against the Boston Celtics in the 1995 NBA Playoffs.
O'Neal was injured for a great deal of the 1995–96 season, missing 28 games. He averaged 26.6 points and 11 rebounds per game, made the All-NBA 3rd Team, and played in his 4th All-Star Game. Despite O'Neal's injuries, the Magic finished with a regular season record of 60–22, second in the Eastern conference to the Chicago Bulls, who finished with an NBA record 72 wins.
Orlando easily defeated the Detroit Pistons and the Atlanta Hawks in the first two rounds of the 1996 NBA Playoffs; however, they were no match for Jordan's Bulls, who swept them in the Eastern Conference Finals.
Los Angeles Lakers (1996–2004)
In 1999, prior to the 1999–2000 season, the Lakers hired Phil Jackson as head coach, and the team's fortunes soon changed. Jackson immediately challenged O'Neal, telling him "the [NBA's] MVP trophy should be named after him when he retired."
In the November 10, 1999, game against the Houston Rockets, O'Neal and Charles Barkley were ejected. After O'Neal blocked a layup by Barkley, O'Neal shoved Barkley, who then threw the ball at O'Neal.
O'Neal was also voted the 1999–2000 regular season Most Valuable Player, one vote short of becoming the first unanimous MVP in NBA history. Fred Hickman, then of CNN, instead chose Allen Iverson, then of the Philadelphia 76ers who would go on to win MVP the next season. O'Neal also won the scoring title while finishing second in rebounds and third in blocked shots. Jackson's influence resulted in a newfound commitment by O'Neal to defense, resulting in his first All-Defensive Team selection (second-team) in 2000.
In the 2001 NBA Finals against the 76ers, O'Neal fouled out in Game 3 backing over Dikembe Mutombo, the 2000–2001 Defensive Player of the Year. "I didn't think the best defensive player in the game would be flopping like that. It's a shame that the referees buy into that", O'Neal said. "I wish he'd stand up and play me like a man instead of flopping and crying every time I back him down.
A month before the 2001–02 season's training camp, O'Neal had corrective surgery for a claw toe deformity in the smallest toe of his left foot.
Matched up against the Sacramento Kings in the 2002 Western Conference finals, O'Neal said, "There is only one way to beat us. It starts with c and ends with t." O'Neal meant "cheat" in reference to the alleged flopping of Kings' center Vlade Divac. O'Neal referred to Divac as "she", and said he would never exaggerate contact to draw a foul. "I'm a guy with no talent who has gotten this way with hard work."
Using Jackson's triangle offense, O'Neal and Bryant enjoyed tremendous success, leading the Lakers to three consecutive titles (2000, 2001, and 2002). O'Neal was named MVP of the NBA Finals all three times and had the highest scoring average for a center in NBA Finals history.
Toe surgery to departure
O'Neal missed the first 12 games of the 2002–03 season recovering from toe surgery.He was sidelined with hallux rigidus, a degenerative arthritis in his toe.
Miami Heat (2004–2008)
In the 2006 NBA Playoffs, the Heat first faced the younger Chicago Bulls, and O'Neal delivered a dominating 27 point, 16 rebound and 5 blocks performance in game 1 followed by a 22-point effort in game 2 to help Miami take a 2–0 lead in the series. Chicago would respond with two dominating performances at home to tie the series, but Miami would respond right back with a victory at home in game 5. Miami returned to Chicago and closed out the series in the 6th game, highlighted by another dominating performance by O'Neal who finished with 30 points and 20 rebounds. Miami advanced to face New Jersey, who won a surprising game 1 victory before the Heat won four straight to assure a rematch with Detroit.
The Pistons had no answer for Wade throughout the series, while O'Neal delivered 21 points and 12 rebounds in game 3 followed by 27 points and 12 boards in game 4 to help Miami take a 3-2 series lead. The Pistons would win game 5 in Detroit, and Wade would once again get injured, but the Heat held on to win game 6 with O'Neal scoring 28 points with 16 rebounds and 5 blocks to help Miami reach their first ever NBA Finals.
In the Finals, the Heat were underdogs against the Dallas Mavericks led by Dirk Nowitzki, and the Mavericks won the first two games at home in dominating fashion. The Heat led by Wade and a balanced effort by O'Neal, Antoine Walker and Jason Williams would go on to win all three of the next games at home, before closing out the series in Dallas to deliver the first NBA title for the franchise and O'Neal's fourth title. With Wade carrying the offensive load, O'Neal did not need to have a dominating series, and finished with an average of 13.7 points and 10.2 rebounds for the series.
Surgery and Wade's injury
In the 2006–07 season, O'Neal missed 35 games after an injury to his left knee in November required surgery.After one of those missed games, a Christmas Day match-up against the Lakers, he ripped Jackson, who O'Neal had once called a second father, referring to his former coach as "Benedict Arnold". Jackson had previously said, "The only person I've ever [coached] that hasn't been a worker ... is probably Shaq."
It was the first time in 13 years that O'Neal did not advance into the second round. In the 2006–07 season O'Neal reached 25,000 career points, becoming the 14th player in NBA history to accomplish that milestone. However, it was the first season in O'Neal's career that his scoring average dropped below 20 points per game.
Boston Celtics (2010–2011)
Upon hearing Bryant comment that he had more rings than O'Neal, Wyc Grousbeck, principal owner of the Celtics, saw an opportunity to acquire O'Neal.
O'Neal said he didn't "compete with little guys who run around dominating the ball, throwing up 30 shots a night—like D–Wade, Kobe." O'Neal added that he was only competing against Duncan: "If Tim Duncan gets five rings, then that gives some writer the chance to say 'Duncan is the best,' and I can't have that."
On June 1, 2011, O'Neal announced his retirement via social media.On a short video on Twitter, O'Neal tweeted, "We did it. Nineteen years, baby. I want to thank you very much. That's why I'm telling you first. I'm about to retire. Love you. Talk to you soon." On June 3, 2011, O'Neal held a press conference at his home in Orlando to officially announce his retirement.
Cleveland Cavaliers (2009–2010)
On June 25, 2009, O'Neal was traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers for Sasha Pavlovic, Ben Wallace, $500,000, and a 2010-second round draft pick.Upon arriving in Cleveland, O'Neal said, "My motto is very simple: Win a Ring for the King", referring to LeBron James.
On February 25, 2010, O'Neal suffered a severe right thumb injury while attempting to go up for a shot against Glen Davis of the Boston Celtics.He had surgery on the thumb on March 1 and returned to play in time for the first round of the playoffs.
After defeating the Chicago Bulls in the first round, the Cavaliers went on to lose to the Boston Celtics in the second round. In September 2016, O'Neal said: "When I was in Cleveland, we were in first place. Big Baby [Glen Davis] breaks my hand and I had to sit out five weeks late in the year. I come back finally in the first round of the playoffs, and we lost to Boston in the second round. I was upset. I know for a fact if I was healthy, we would have gotten it done that year and won a ring."
O'Neal averaged career lows in almost every major statistical category during the 2009–10 season, taking on a much less significant role than in previous years.
Phoenix Suns (2008–2009)
The Phoenix Suns acquired O'Neal in February 2008 from the league-worst Miami Heat, who had a record at the time of the trade of 9-37, in exchange for Shawn Marion and Marcus Banks.O'Neal made his Suns debut on February 20, 2008, against his former Lakers team, scoring 15 points and grabbing 9 rebounds in the process.
In 28 regular-season games, O'Neal averaged 12.9 points and 10.6 rebounds,good enough to make the playoffs. One of the reasons for the trade was to limit Tim Duncan in the event of a postseason matchup between the Suns and the San Antonio Spurs, especially after the Suns' six-game elimination by the Spurs in the 2007 NBA Playoffs.O'Neal and the Phoenix Suns did face the Spurs in the first round of the playoffs, but they were once again eliminated, in five games. O'Neal averaged 15.2 points, 9.2 rebounds and 1.0 assists per game.
The 2009 NBA Playoffs was also the first time since O'Neal's rookie season in 1992–93 that he did not participate in the playoffs. He was named as a member of the All-NBA Third Team. The Suns notified O'Neal he might be traded to cut costs.
O'Neal experienced a rough start for the 2007–08 season, averaging career lows in points, rebounds, and blocks. His role in the offense diminished, as he attempted only 10 field goals per game, versus his career average of 17. In addition, O'Neal was plagued by fouls, and during one stretch fouled out of five consecutive games. O'Neal's streak of 14 straight All-Star appearances ended that season.
O'Neal again missed games due to injuries, and the Heat had a 15–game losing streak.According to O'Neal, Riley thought he was faking the injury.During a practice in February 2008, O'Neal got into an altercation with Riley over the coach ordering a tardy Jason Williams to leave practice.
O'Neal played 33 games for the Miami Heat in the 2007–08 season prior to being traded to the Phoenix Suns. O'Neal started all 33 games and averaged 14.2 points per game. Following the trade to Phoenix, O'Neal averaged 12.9 points while starting all 28 games with the Suns.
"Shaquille" redirects here. For other people called Shaquille, see Shaquille (given name)."Shaq" redirects here. For other people called Shaq, see Shaq (disambiguation).