By Moses Kamuiru
A Beautiful Blend of Finesse and Power
While the statistics are impressive, Shaq was so much more than the 2,732 shots he blocked, 13,099 rebounds he grabbed or the 28,596 points he scored. Even the NBA Championships and various MVP awards he won are only a small part of this giant man’s career. Numerous things set Shaquille O’Neil apart from the other players in the NBA community. His unique skillset was a no brainer for the fans and drew more and more people to the sport of basketball. In the first half of his career, he was a beautiful blend of finesse and power. For his size, Shaq was fairly athletic and could run the court flawlessly.
Shaq would bowl over anyone who tried to stop him in the post. He was a sheer force to reckon with thanks to his size and strength. Stopping him became so involved that rival teams started employing the “Hack-a- Shaq” tactic. The tactic was meant to foul Shaq deliberately so that he would miss his free throws. Shaq not only went to his opponents with so much tenacity, but he also attacked the basket with an unseen amount of power. After Darryl Dawkins had ripped the rim off the backboard a few too many times, they changed hole the basket was built so Shaq couldn’t take the rim down the court with him. Surprisingly, He just made the entire basket down to the court.
Thank You Fans
Shaq was one of the most accessible players to the fans in all of the NBA. He regularly attributed his superstardom to the unyielding cheers and support from the fans. He was always good for the sound bite and enjoyed the attention. O’Neil mentioned that one reason he wanted to have his press conference at his house was so he could host the media and feed them, thanking them for an incredible relationship of nineteen years. He was one of the very first athletes to connect with his fans using Twitter where he offered contests to meet him and win tickets to his games.
Although sometimes overlooked, his charity efforts made a tremendous contribution to the less fortunate in the American society. Shaq helped supply and distribute necessities to victims of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. He is involved in countless charity events and his “Shaq-A-Claus” routine, delivering toys to less fortunate children on Christmas, is a huge hit. Many times, Shaq wasn’t charitable because it was good for his image, he just did it, often without any fanfare.
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Photo Credits: STACKS Magazine