Shaq: The Big Legacy

Shaq: The Big Legacy

Shaq’s legacy in 50 years is an interesting question. Most greats in NBA history are measured by their competition.

Wilt vs. Russell
Bird vs. Magic

Being two of the most popular that spring to mindChristian Laettner  vs Shaq

But you also get Robinson vs. Hakeem, Cowens vs. Unseld, Kemp vs. Malone, to a lesser extent, but the NBA more than any other sport is defined by a player imposing his will on not only his team but the entire game.

Robinson wins the MVP. And get utterly destroyed by Hakeem in the playoffs, Isiah wins a ring almost single-handedly, the other nine players on the floor either not wanting to get in his way or unable to stop him, even games like Bird vs Nique are still remembered decades later as two men not willing to give an inch in dominance, until the clock strikes zero and they have to stop. Players like James Worthy, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Kevin McHale, Bill Walton and so on- Hall of Famers all- but we all knew the ring came down to Bird vs Magic – two of the greats would determine the winner.

Who is Shaq’s biggest rival? Does he have one? Sadly the great Centers of the 80s were no more- Ewing , Mutombo, Hakeem & Robinson were either at the tail end of their careers or players like Zo, Duncan, Amare, or Camby are truly Power Forwards.

So who is Shaq’s Biggest Competition? Anyone?

I would maintain that there is NO competition for Shaq- other than Shaq himself- and unlike Jordan- whom after Isiah Thomas went down, and the Lakers run ended- with no other strong competition- ran off 6 rings to cement his legacy.

Shaq 2Shaq?

3 rings- and if Kobe breaks through to cement HIS legacy – Shaq’s role there his hurt
1 ring with Miami- and yet the MVP there was Wade.

Even if he wins a fifth ring with Phoenix- that will more than likely looked at as a Hall of Famer but not an all time great- most likely that Ring will belong to Amare and Nash more than the Man in the Middle.

He had NO competition in his Prime- should have been the MOST DOMINANT PLAYER of his era, But unlike Jordan, who cemented his legacy by needing a second hand for his rings, Shaq is going to be overshadowed by his “sidekicks” Kobe and Wade in history’s eye.

But is this fair? Can we dismiss 3 rings as Not enough?
Let me give you a Q.

Compare Ted Williams and Mickey Mantle- what is the FIRST THING you do- break out the stats right?

Ok Lets do that.


1 MVP – Same as DIRK, by the way
2 Points Titles
ZERO Rebounding titles
ZERO Block Titles
ZERO NBA Defensive First Teams

There we go- that’s all, Now when we look at the Centers that stopped Ewing, Wilt, and other all time greats from getting a Dozen awards- we look at other Hall of Famers- Shaq? We are looking at who? Mutombo?

Magic has only FOUR Assist titles- But he had to play in the Era of Stockton and Thomas. Magic, based on the title listings does not measure up to some points- but when you watched him play in the playoffs, you knew he was special.

Dwight Howard has a rebounding title, Iverson has a scoring title, Marcus Camby has multiple block titles- yet Shaq dwarfs them all in stature- but looking back 10, 20, 30 years from now- will we look at Shaq as man that dominated the NBA? Or will he be another Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as a Laker- only without the Bucks career to show how great he was. If Kobe wins a few titles with Gasol and Bynum, does that make Shaq just a little less in retrospect?

Shaq will be remembered as an All-Star yes- but compared to the other greats – he falls VERY short. No one can even think he is not a “first ballot” Hall of Famer- but does he transcend the sport like Wilt, Magic, Bird. . . Jordan ?

Shaq, sadly, falls short- he HAS no excuse, Bird can look at 3 rings and be proud- he won them in the era of Magic, Wilt, in the era of Russell, Hakeem had to play in the era of Jordan. Shaq played in his own era- and lost to far lesser teams with FAR lesser centers.


Originally written 1/2009

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  1. When I first saw Shaq play, I thought this guy is gonna be another Chamberlain and totally destroy all who stand in his way. To somedegree, whiel shaq did have his periods of dominace, that never really materialized…some folks say because Shaq never had the motivation to constantly get better. Me? I’m not sure why he didn’t really be as dominate as Chamberlain or some of the other guys you mention, especilly since as you point out he really didn’t have another dominate center to play against, but, he never did become one of the best centers ever. Damn good? Yes, but, in my opinion not one of the best ever.

    I also would like to mention while I am not a great admirer of Kareem I wll admit he deserves the accolades he gets when he is mentioned as one of the best who played in that center position… so why was there what seemed like a slight diss when you mention his name?

  2. I will admit, I never saw Buck-Kereem. I only saw him in LakerLand from about 1981 on.
    He did tend to get lazy, he did tend to only bring his A game when it really meant something, and also would get swallowed up by Robert Parrish and at times, Mark Eaton. I have to think that on a Wednesday in Denver, he probably didn’t care and it was up to the rest of the team to win.
    I’m not saying he was lazy year-round. But I do think there is a lot to what the kid says in Airplane.

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