Shaquille O Neal was arguably the most dominant player the NBA has ever seen. The Diesel dominated the paint during his time in the NBA and is one of the best centers of all time. Shaq finished his NBA career with four titles, in his 20 seasons in the league.
How many Championships has Shaq Won? Shaq won four titles in his career, with the Lakers and the Heat, as well as being a three time finals MVP. Alongside Kobe Bryant, he led the Lakers to a three-peat to start the 2000s, winning finals MVP in all three of those finals. After leaving the Lakers in 2004, Shaq partnered with a young Dwayne Wade to beat Dirk and the Mavs to earn his fourth title.
Shaq and Kobe
Shaq achieved some success in his early career, with Shaq reaching the NBA finals in 1995, Shaq’s third season. Sadly for the Magic, Shaq realised that he needed more than Penny Hardaway to win the title. Having become a free agent in 1996, Shaq joined the Lakers. Without a proper sidekick for the first few years, Shaq couldn’t take the Lakers past the conference finals. However, with the development of Kobe Bryant into a superstar, Shaq finally had the partner he was looking for. Phil Jackson joined the team in 1999 having just finished taking the Bulls to their second three peat. Despite an early season fight with his current TNT co-star Charles Barkley, Shaq produced the best season of his career in 1999-2000, winning regular season and all star game MVP, as Shaq led the Lakers to the number 1 seed, with a record of 67-15. The Lakers beat the Kings and the Suns on their way to the Western Conference Finals, where they almost gave up a 3-1 lead, losing game five and six. In game seven, it was Kobe who carried Shaq, with the Mamba putting up 25/11/7 to help beat the Blazers 89-84.
The finals was a slightly easier affair, with the Lakers just being too much for Reggie Miller and the Pacers and beating Indiana in six games, with Shaq scoring 41 points in game six to seal his first title. 2001 proved to be a much easier road to the finals, with the Lakers sweeping the Blazers, Kings and even the Spurs on the way to the finals, where they faced Allen Iverson. Iverson provided a classic NBA moment in game 1, beating the Lakers in LA, having stepped over Lakers guard Tyron Lue. The Lakers then took over the series, winning the next four despite monster performances from Iverson. Shaq dominated the aging Dikembe Mutombo in the finals, on his way to his second finals MVP, putting up 33 points and 16 rebounds in the finals. Shaq went into 2002 with a toe injury that had forced him to have surgery still bothering him. Shaq didn’t quite have that explosiveness before his injury. Despite this, the Lakers still managed to finish the season as the third seed, behind the Kings and Spurs. Their playoff run started with a familiar sight, sweeping the Blazers. The Spurs still couldn’t put up a serious fight against the Lakers, losing in five games. The Kings however, gave the Lakers their toughest playoff series of the three peat. The series was covered in controversy, with referee Tim Donaghy claiming in 2008 that game six was fixed, in favour of the Lakers. The Lakers won game six, shooting 18 more free throws than the Kings. Numerous controversial fouls went against the Kings, and Kobe Bryant was even not called for a foul after elbowing Mike Bibby in front of a referee. Game seven was one of the best games in NBA history, with the Lakers prevailing in overtime, thanks to incredibly poor shooting from the Kings. After this series, the Lakers swept the Nets in the finals to win their third title in a row.
Move to Miami
After a shocking loss in the finals to the Pistons in 2004, many reports came out that Shaq and Kobe’s relationship had broken and they were looking for ways out. The Lakers were favouring Kobe for their future, so they worked out a trade with the Miami Heat, with Caron Butler, Lamar Odom and Brian Grant going the other way. Sadly for Shaq, his two years with the Heat were plagued with injury, with a deep thigh bruise hobbling Shaq for the 2005 playoffs, where the Heat lost to the Pistons in game seven.
The start of the 2005-06 season started poorly, with Shaq missing 18 games due to an ankle injury and Stan Van Gundy resigning, with Pat Riley taking over as head coach. Shaq recorded the lowest stats of his career, but without him the Heat could only manage a .500 record. The Heat still finished as the two seed, and beat the Bulls and Nets before avenging their previous playoff loss by beating the Pistons in six games to send them to the finals. In those finals, the Heat met the Dallas Mavericks, where they defeated them in six games. Shaq played a much more diminished role in those finals, scoring 14 points per game, as he was a sidekick to Dwayne Wade who was finals MVP, averaging 35 points per game.
The Rest of Shaq’s Career
Shaq never really got close to another finals, despite playing with Lebron and then with the Celtics big three. Shaq decided to retire after his year with the Celtics, and finished up his career as a four time champion and one of the most dominant centres of all time.