Throwback Thursday: The NBA Enters the Shaq-Fu Era
Shaquille O’Neal is critical of today’s crop of NBA centers – particularly the new co-captain in La La Land. But for good reason. Aside from being one of the most dominant forces the NBA ever witnessed, Shaq revolutionized the big man position with a repertoire of post moves unseen by the NBA in previous decades. Though noted for his legacy in Los Angeles, as well as a championship in Miami, O’Neal earned his professional cred in Orlando, where he quickly revamped the franchise. In black pinstripes, he boasted a Rookie of the Year award in 1992, made the All Star team four times, and appeared in the 1995 NBA Finals; the year that would prove to be his last with the Magic.
Bu keep in mind, he accomplished this all before his rookie contract expired. It’s even more unbelievable when you consider the talent at Center, at the time, included MVPs David Robinson, Hakeem Olajuwon and Patrick Ewing as well as formidable opponents (and All Stars) in Rik Smits, Dikemebe Mutumbo, Alonzo Mourning, Vlade Divac and Kevin Willis.
Shaq earned his right to be critical of today’s batch of big men. He has the hardware (and rings and records) to prove it. But it all started on Draft Day in 1992 when he first dawned that Orlando Magic snapback.