SOURCE: USA Basket ball

Shaquille O'Neal
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Shaquille O'Neal

Position: Center Olympic #: 13
Born: 3/6/72 (Newark, N.J.) College: Louisiana State Univ.
Height: 7’1” Weight: 301 lbs.

An impact player if there ever was one, Shaquille Rashaun O’Neal burst into the league at age 20 as a 7-foot-1, 300-pound, unstoppable force. Within three seasons he had captured a scoring title and powered the expansion Orlando Magic into the NBA Finals. Along the way he has become the NBA’s most prominent superstar since Michael Jordan, pursuing side careers in acting and rap music.

O’Neal, whose first and middle names mean "Little Warrior" in Arabic, is the ultimate power player. He combines an array of classic post moves with the athleticism to run the floor and the strength to dunk over anyone. His only weakness thus far has been his free-throw shooting; he owns a 558 free-throw percentage through his first three seasons.

O’Neal demolished college competition while at Louisiana State University, where he played one season with Chris Jackson (later Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf) and Stanley Roberts, who both went on to the NBA. In O’Neal’s sophomore season, 1990-91, he averaged 27.6 points and 14.7 rebounds and shot .628 from the field. His rebounding average led the nation, and he was named national Player of the Year in most polls. As a junior he was double- and triple-teamed more frequently, and his average dropped to 24.1 points per game; however, he led the nation in blocked shots at 5.2 per contest. He left school after his junior season as the Southeastern Conference’s all-time leader in blocked shots and the first player to lead the conference in rebounding for three years since Charles Barkley. O’Neal was a First-Team All-American as a sophomore and a junior, although Duke’s Christian Laettner won most Player of the Year awards in 1992.

The Orlando Magic won the 1992 NBA Draft Lottery, thereby earning the right to select O’Neal with the first pick in the upcoming draft. The 20-year-old rookie established himself immediately, grabbing 18 rebounds in his first game and winning NBA Player of the Week honors for his first week in the league. O’Neal finished his rookie season ranked eighth in the NBA in scoring (23.4 ppg), second in rebounding (13.9 rpg), second in blocks (3.53 per game), fourth in field-goal percentage (.562), and first in turnovers (307). He was the youngest participant ever in the NBA All Star Game and was named 1993 NBA Rookie of the Year. O’Neal also sparked the Magic to a 41-41 record, a 20-game improvement over the previous season.

In 1993-94, O’Neal led the league in scoring for much of the year until San Antonio’s David Robinson scored 71 points on the last day of the season to take the title. O’Neal averaged 29.3 points (to Robinson’s 29.8) and 13.2 rebounds. His .599 field-goal percentage led the NBA and he improved his season free-throw percentage to .554. After a season in which he led the Magic to their first-ever NBA Playoff appearance, O’Neal set his sights on playing for Team USA at the 1994 World Championship of Basketball. After eight games, Team USA took the gold medal behind O’Neal’s MVP performance with his team-leading 18.0 ppg. and 8.5 rpg.

Teaming with Anfernee Hardaway to give Orlando one of the NBA’s best inside-outside tandems, O'Neal won his first scoring title in 1994-95, averaging 29.3 points while leading the Magic to the best record in the Eastern Conference at 57-25. Orlando pushed all the way to the NBA Finals before being swept by the Houston Rockets in four games.

Although he was injured for 28 games in 1995-96, Shaq again posted strong numbers, ranking third in scoring (26.6 ppg.), sixth in rebounding (11.0 rpg.), third in field goal percentage (.573) and ninth in blocked shots (2.13 bpg.).

NBA Regular-Season Record
  G FGM-FGA Pct. 3PM-3PA Pct. FTM-FTA Pct. Reb/Avg Pts/Avg Ast. Stl. Blk.
‘92-‘93 81 733-1304 .562 0-2 .000 427-721 .592 1122/13.9 1893/23.4 152 60 286
‘93-‘94 81 *953-1591 .599 0-2 .000 471-850 .554 1072/13.2 2377/29.3 195 76 231
‘94-‘95 79 930-1594 .583 0-5 .000 455-854 .533 901/11.4 *2315/29.3 214 73 192
‘95-‘96 54 592-1033 .573 1-2 .500 249-511 .487 596/11.0 1434/26.6 155 34 115
Totals 295 3208-5522 .581 1-11 .091 1602-2936 .556 3691/12.5 8019/27.2 716 243 824
    * Led league

USA Basketball Record
  G FGM-FGA Pct. 3PM-3PA Pct. FTM-FTA Pct. Reb/Avg Pts/Avg Ast. Stl. Blk.
1990 USOF 4 39-66 .591 0-0 .000 20-34 .588 *55/13.8 *98/24.5 14 4 *27
1994 WCOB 8 62-87 **.713 0-4 .000 20-38 .526 68/8.5 144/18.0 4 9 15
      * Led Olympic Festival
     ** Led Team USA

1990 USOF   —   1990 U.S. Olympic Festival, South Team, Minneapolis, Minnesota (the South finished 3-1 and won the gold medal)

1994 WC   —   1994 World Championship of Basketball, Toronto, Canada (the USA finished 8-0 and won the gold medal)

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