The NBA has been blessed to witness many players with great talent, and also many players with great personalities, but there have only been a small few who have successfully displayed a combination of both. Perhaps the greatest example of this is Shaquille O’Neal.
Did Shaq ever play for the Lakers? Shaquille O’Neal played for the Los Angeles Lakers from 1996 until 2004. The peak of Shaq’s career arguably came during his time with the Lakers, teaming up with a young Kobe Bryant and legendary coach Phil Jackson to win 3 NBA championships consecutively. During his time on the Lakers, some of Shaq’s achievements include 1 MVP award (his only MVP), 3 NBA Finals MVP awards, and 1 scoring titles, among other accolades. Shaq was traded in 2004 to the Miami Heat after a years-long public feud with Kobe came to a head and resulted in Shaq’s trade request and eventual departure from the team.
What other teams did Shaquille O’Neal play for?
Shaquille O’Neal’s NBA career started a bit before he joined the Los Angeles Lakers. He was selected with the 1st overall pick in the 1992 NBA Draft by the Orlando Magic. Shaq was highly-rated even before joining the NBA, and he got off to a hot start in his NBA career with the Magic, winning the 1993 Rookie of the Year award. Before Shaq ever teamed up with Bryant, he built a strong partnership with another flashy guard in Anfernee “Penny” Hardaway, turning the Orlando Magic into contenders despite the franchise’s relative infancy. In Shaq’s third year, he won the scoring title, finished 2nd in MVP voting, and took the Magic all the way to the NBA Finals but ultimately got swept by Hakeem Olajuwon and the Houston Rockets. The following season the Magic made another deep playoff run but were knocked out in the Conference Finals by Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls.
After Shaq took issues with the internal organization politics as well as the public perception of him by the fans and the media, Shaq decided to move across the country to the Los Angeles Lakers once he hit free agency. After a 8-year period with the Lakers filled with championship successes and constant in-fighting, Shaq was traded to the Miami Heat prior to the start of the 2004-05 season. Paired with yet another flashy guard in Dwyane Wade, Shaq was still a formidable force despite his toe injuries slowing him down from his younger days. He had a strong first season with the Heat, almost winning the MVP, but the Heat bowed out of the playoffs after a narrow loss to the Detroit Pistons in the Eastern Conference Finals. The next year was more successful, as Shaq and the Heat marched through the playoffs and knocked off Dirk Nowitzki and the Dallas Mavericks to win Shaq’s 4th NBA championship.
Internal turmoil was becoming a bit of a pattern for Shaq wherever he went, and his injuries weren’t helping; the 2 years after winning the 2006 NBA Finals were lows for Shaq, and he was traded mid-season to the Phoenix Suns. The 2008-09 season was a bit of a resurgence for Shaq, who felt a lot healthier, but it was still a far cry from his glory days, and the Suns failed to make the playoffs. After a season and a half with the Suns, Shaq was shipped off to the Cleveland Cavaliers to hopefully help LeBron James win a ring. However, Shaq assumed a more limited role, and a thumb injury sidelined him late in the season, and the Cavaliers failed in their championship pursuit. For one more chance, Shaq joined the Boston Celtics as a free agent for the 2010-11 season, but injuries marred him throughout the regular season and the playoffs, and the Celtics were knocked out by LeBron James, now with the Miami Heat. Shaq decided to call it quits and announced his retirement in 2011, after 19 years in the NBA. He was inducted into the NBA Hall of Fame
What were Shaquille O’Neal’s career achievements?
Shaquille O’Neal has one of the best resumes in NBA history, with a bevy of awards and honors to his name:
- 4x NBA Champion
- 3x NBA Finals MVP
- 1x NBA MVP
- 15x NBA All-Star
- 3x NBA All-Star MVP
- 8x All-NBA First Team
- 2x All-NBA Second Team
- 4x All-NBA Third Team
- 3x NBA All-Defensive Second Team
- 1993 NBA Rookie of the Year
- 1993 NBA All-Rookie First Team
- 2x NBA scoring champion
- NBA Hall of Fame Class of 2016
What is Shaquille O’Neal doing now?
Shaq’s impressive stature (7’1, 325 pounds) paired with his comedic personality made him one of the most popular NBA players ever, surpassed by very few in this regard, such as Michael Jordan. During his playing career, Shaq showed a penchant for media, releasing rap albums, starring in movies, and having a playful relationship with media members. This allowed to transition to his post-NBA career quite seamlessly, as it allowed him to further explore his adventurous hobbies, such as showing up in the WWE ring or DJing sets at concerts around the world. Nowadays, alongside his multiple sponsorships and businesses he’s involved, Shaq spends a lot of time as a basketball analyst on the highly-rated Inside the NBA show on TNT alongside former players Charles Barkely and Kenny Smith.
When it comes to some of the greatest players to every play in the NBA, Shaquille O’Neal has had a path often taken by journeymen, playing for 6 teams in his 19-year career. While a good portion of those years with different teams were memorable, what cemented Shaq in the history books of the NBA was his stint with the Los Angeles Lakers. Shaq showed the league and the world what a player of his caliber was capable of, winning 3 championships in a row and winning the NBA Finals MVP each time. Shaq’s partnership with Kobe will also be remembered, as the “love-hate” relationship between them was a recurring topic for both of them during their times in the league. Shaq’s larger-than-life size, talent, and personality paired with the Hollywood lights of the Lakers meant that his stint between 1996 and 2004 will be reflected on for many decades to come.