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A 19-Bullet Salute to Shaq

Posted by Justin Kubatko on June 3, 2011

As you no doubt know, Shaquille O'Neal, one of the NBA's greatest centers, announced his retirement earlier this week. In honor of Shaq, here are 19 bullet points, one for each season of his illustrious career:

  • O'Neal was named to 14 All-NBA teams, just one behind the record of 15 set by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
  • In the 1999-00 season, O'Neal became just the third player in NBA history to lead the league in both offensive and defensive win shares. The other players to accomplish this feat were Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (1975-76 and 1976-77) and David Robinson (1994-95).
  • Also in 1999-00, O'Neal joined Willis Reed (1969-70) and Michael Jordan (1995-96 and 1997-98) as the only NBA players to be named All Star Game MVP, MVP, and Finals MVP in the same season.
  • O'Neal was named Finals MVP three times (2000, 2001, and 2002), tying him with Magic Johnson and Tim Duncan for second place behind Michael Jordan (six times).
  • Although he was a good shot blocker, O'Neal never led the NBA in blocks, blocks per game, or block percentage.
  • Likewise, while O'Neal was considered a good rebounder, he never led the NBA in offensive rebounds, defensive rebounds, or total rebounds (on a total, per game, or percentage basis).
  • O'Neal is the only player in NBA history to finish first or second in the MVP voting for three different franchises (the Orlando Magic, the Los Angeles Lakers, and the Miami Heat).
  • The best game of O'Neal's career probably came on March 6, 2000, when he scored a career-high 61 points and grabbed 23 rebounds versus the Clippers.
  • O'Neal made the only three-point basket of his career on February 16, 1996 versus the Milwaukee Bucks.
  • As most fans know, foul shooting was O'Neal's Achilles' heel. He missed 5317 free throws in his career, the second most in NBA history behind Wilt Chamberlain (5805). No other players are even close to Chamberlain and O'Neal: Karl Malone is third on the list with 3401 misses.
  • O'Neal's best performance from the charity stripe came on April 17, 2001, when he went 13-13 versus Denver. Earlier that season, O'Neal had perhaps his worst performance from the line, missing all 11 of his free throws on December 8, 2000 versus Seattle.
  • On the other hand, O'Neal led the league in field goal percentage 10 times, an NBA record. In fact, O'Neal's career-low field goal percentage was 55.7 percent, a figure that would have been good for the league lead in 22 of the NBA's 65 seasons.
  • O'Neal attempted at least one field goal in 1206 of his 1207 of his regular season games. The exception occurred on February 22, 2005 versus Chicago, when he left the game in the first two minutes with a knee injury.
  • O'Neal led the league in turnovers as a rookie in 1992-93, but after that he never even finished in the top 10 in turnovers in any other season. No other player in NBA history has led the league in turnovers one season and had zero other finishes in the top 10.
  • O'Neal averaged at least 20 points and 10 rebounds per game 12 times*, tying him with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for the all-time lead. (*Seasons in which he qualified for the scoring and/or rebounding titles.)
  • O'Neal finished his career with a total of 605 "20/10" games. He put up his first "20/10" game on November 7, 1992 versus Washington, the second game of his NBA career. O'Neal's last "20/10" game came on November 24, 2010 versus New Jersey.
  • From May 31, 2002 through April 17, 2004, O'Neal registered 19 consecutive "20/10" playoff games, the longest streak in the last 21 years.
  • In the playoffs, O'Neal averaged 24.3 points and 11.6 rebounds per game, both improvements over his regular season averages of 23.7 and 10.9, respectively.
  • O'Neal led the NBA in playoff win shares four times, third on the all-time list behind Michael Jordan (seven times) and Bill Russell (five times).

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63 Responses to “A 19-Bullet Salute to Shaq”

  1. sean Says:

    @ #50... Neil that is AWESOME. Was the grandson tall?

  2. Neil Paine Says:

    Not especially by basketball standards. I'm about 6'3½", so he was probably no more than 6'4". His dad (Bob Kurland's son) was about 6'5" or 6'6", so there's your regression to the mean at work.

  3. sean Says:

    Ah, man... if I was Kurland's son or grandson, I'd be HOPING for some genetic advantages. I guess some kids never do grow up to finally beat their dads in pickup games in the driveway.

  4. sean Says:

    If you looked at the demographic percentages for MLB now VS, oh, I dunno-----say 30-35 years ago would THEY look different? LESS blacks play now. Blacks aren't absent from MLB because of anything barring them today, yet they just don't play the game in as great a number as before. Are today's major leaguers enjoying an unfair 'break'? Or should we just worry about the people who DO play as everyone is ALLOWED to play? I'm going to opt for the latter. >>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    The figures: In 2011, it's down to 8.5% blacks playing MLB, down from 10% last year or the year before. In 1997 (I think) the figure was 17%. Do we have to handicap the results of MLB this year based on these figures---even though blacks are allowed to play?

    In the NBA, ever since they found Olajuwon in Lagos, Nigeria, scouts have been looking for the next Akeem. It's been nearly 30 years------and they still haven't found him... and I gotta believe that at this point, there isn't a rock in any corner of the globe that hasn't been turned over looking for him.

    Maybe the imagined pool of untapped talent NOT playing in the NBA has been overestimated greatly... in this era and in eras past.

  5. huevonkiller Says:

    #39

    On this basis buddy: http://bkref.com/tiny/hQDAZ

    Shaq is better than Hakeem.

    As for the other point:

    So Duncan was not willing to guard him, and acknowledged Robinson as a better defender? Not a great defense. Or Duncan was willing to admit he has a bad matchup against Shaq?

    Shaq handles Tim Duncan just fine.

    http://bkref.com/tiny/RlTH6

  6. huevonkiller Says:

    Sean first of all what the heck do I care about baseball? I don't like baseball and it is a less athletic sport, LOL.

    Less athletic players can dominate baseball, I'm talking about basketball a much more dynamic sport without fat pitchers that stand on a mound waiting for a guy standing around with a bat.

    Yes there are more HISPANIC players in baseball anyway lol. Hispanic players are the best players in the sport, and they dominate internationally anyway. Nice job messing that up.
    What is it with you and how you define segregation to just one race, and only if 100% of that race is barred from the sport?

    The facts are that the league is mostly NOT white now, in an integrated era. Name the top 20 players in the history of the league? Oh that's what I thought dude.

    African Americans are embraced now, they didn't even have the civil rights act when Wilt started playing. You don't have one statistic on your side you are a biased Celtics fan.

  7. huevonkiller Says:

    #41 Lol dude the NBA became legitimate around the time most of the country became reasonable. AKA after the civil rights movement, Jordan's era has the right demographics deal with it.

  8. Bill Says:

    @ 54

    Well, they turned up Mutombo and Yao. It's hard to say what Yao could have been if he weren't Bill Walton's illegimate son, and Mutombo was one of the greatest defensive players of the modern era.

  9. huevonkiller Says:

    Oh I will admit, I do watch the Marlins every once in a while. :]

  10. Alex Says:

    Haven't checked their stats against Robinson/Ewing/Mutombo, but am inclined to agree that the debate of the best center of the last 20-25 comes down to Olajuwon and O'Neal.

    Have to disagree; Olajuwon's stats look slightly better in career stats. His skill lot more fun to watch than Shaq's size.

    @ #21:

    Any clear advantage O'Neal has (FG%) largely due to his size, and shooting almost exclusively from up close after having the ball passed to him. Olajuwon had much better range.

    Also, Olajuwon almost tripled O'Neal's steals (total or avg), and quite a few more blocks as well.

    @ #55:

    head-to-heads in this instance can be deceptive.

    One, Hakeem, is 9 years older and 10 of those 20 reg. season meetings came after Hakeem turned 35.

    Two, in the link you give, Shaq leads 14-6 life-time, but it doesn't include any playoff games: 1995 HOU 4-0 ORL, and 1999 LAL 3-1 HOU (in 1999, Hakeem was 36).

    So reg sesaon: Shaq 14-6; in playoff, Hakeem 5-3; overall, Shaq 17-11.

    Half their meetings (reg or playoffs), are after Hakeem turns 35.

  11. Jason J Says:

    I'm proud to have helped instigate this bickering.

  12. sean Says:

    Sean first of all what the heck do I care about baseball? I don't like baseball and it is a less athletic sport, LOL.

    The facts are that the league is mostly NOT white now, in an integrated era. Name the top 20 players in the history of the league? Oh that's what I thought dude.

    African Americans are embraced now, they didn't even have the civil rights act when Wilt started playing. You don't have one statistic on your side you are a biased Celtics fan.

    Lol dude the NBA became legitimate around the time most of the country became reasonable. AKA after the civil rights movement, Jordan's era has the right demographics deal with it.>>>>>>>>>

    Hey, nobody cares if you like baseball.

    So, because baseball is dominated less so by athletic ability---it doesn't matter whether blacks were playing? OK.

    And your beef with the pre-Civil Rights Movement NBA is really that it wasn't as athletic, as say, Jordan's era which started in 1985 (and had the 'right demographics' even though it was pre-European & Asian invasion)? OK.

    The Elo player rater on this site listed 4 white players among the top 20 players ever. Let's say that's reasonable (I don't really care)------that doesn't mean that the best basketball players in the world in the 50s and 60s had to be 80% non-white for it to be a legitimate league.

    Blacks were allowed to play starting in 1950. Was there some seismic shift in blacks invading the NBA right after the Civil Rights Act was signed? Really?

    When did the ABA begin? Was it during the Civil Rights Movement? Did the splitting of the talent between leagues compromise the strength of the NBA------even though 'the country became reasonable' with the Civil Rights Movement? (Nevermind that blacks----and you ARE talking about blacks----were allowed to play since 1950 in the NBA). In other words, was the NBA legit following the Civil Rights Movement... or did it still have to wait until after the ABA/ NBA merger?

    Hey, here's a statistic 'on my side': the number of players you named that should have been playing against Wilt but were barred from the NBA because they were black is ZERO.

    Superb job by you with that one, btw.

    Also, seeing as the NBA is more athletic now than it was in 1985, is it just a matter of time before Jordan is viewed as playing in a relatively athletically compromised NBA-------thus eventually being thrown in the bin of the 'not all-time greats'? Like Russell?

    You biased Celtic-hater, you. Lol.

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