6/3/11 – The Great Shaq

The only thing bigger than Shaquille O’Neal’s body is his personality. Few, if any, professional athletes have been as colorful and as playful as the giant with four NBA championship rings. In a way that’s a shame because in the minds of many fans Shaq’s personality overshadowed his immense talent. Now that he has retired after 19 seasons I have no problem ranking him with the greatest centers to ever play the game. I’m not saying he’s No. 1 all-time – that debate, I guess, will always be between Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain – but wherever he ranks he belongs in the lead pack.

Perhaps he’s underrated because he played too long. He was little more than a role player in his last three or four years. But there was a time when the 15-time all-star was almost unguardable. He was dominant on both ends of the floor. During his early years in Orlando and during his tenure with the Lakers, who won three straight titles thanks to Shaq, he was without question the league’s best big man. He graciously played second banana to Dwayne Wade in Miami and won another title. For the record, no second banana ever played better.



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