Shaquille O'Neal: How the Diesel Has Affected Every Player in the NBA Finals
Four-time NBA champion.
Three-time NBA Finals MVP.
Eight-time All-NBA First Team.
And 28,596 points.
Who would have ever thought a day would come when Shaquille O'Neal is not in the NBA? It seems surreal, as I grew up watching Shaq my whole childhood.
Shaq completely changed the NBA as we know it. There are few players that have not been affected by this comical big man. Heck, there are few fans that have not been affected by him. When you look at his career accolades, you can see that he has become one of the most influential players in league history.
Not only was he a force on the court, but he was an entertainer off it. From movies to TV shows, Shaq has been a great figure for the last two decades.
When you look at these two teams currently in the Finals, you see many players whose lives have changed due to Shaq's presence. The Diesel, the Big Aristotle, Shaqtus, Shaq-Fu—whatever you want to call him, he is a living legend.
We'll start with LeBron James from the Miami Heat. Shaq has been a heavy influence on LeBron. When LeBron first came into the league in 2003, the Los Angeles Lakers were still in their Kobe-Shaq glory days. It has been stated that O'Neal took a liking to LeBron in his early days and tried to mentor him.
Then last season, they teamed up in hopes of hoisting the Larry O'Brien Trophy, and it seemed like a match made in heaven. His motto was, "Win a ring for the King."
However, the dream faded, as the Celtics brutally whipped on a Cavaliers squad that seemed to have a dispirited LeBron. It is possible that LeBron was pushed to go to South Beach because he saw that he could not win it all with players that were just shells of their former selves, like Antawn Jamison, Shaq and Zydrunas Ilgauskas.
Flash and Superman were a great center-guard combo that ultimately netted the Miami Heat their first championship. After fighting with coach Phil Jackson, owner Jerry Buss and Kobe Bryant in Los Angeles, the Lakers finally shipped the big man off to Miami in exchange for essentially Caron Butler and Lamar Odom. It was a great short-term deal for Miami.
Under Shaq's supervision, Dwyane Wade truly became a dominant force. He started to acquire a shot and develop into a pure scorer. Due to Dwyane's quickness, Shaq gave Wade the nickname Flash. It has stuck since.
Shaquille O'Neal and Chris Bosh have not always seen eye to eye. For instance, after a regular-season game in 2009 Shaq dropped an incredible 45 points on Bosh. Bosh later came out and said that it was because he was "camping" in the lane.
Well, nobody gets a negative word in on Shaq and not receive a response, so the Diesel came out and said that Bosh is the "Rupaul of big men." It has been noted that they later made amends, but those are some pretty harsh words.
However, Kevin Garnett has showed much parise towards Bosh, even going as far as saying that he is glad he is going to be out of the league before Bosh unleashes his potential.
When Shaq joined Cleveland last year, the man he was replacing in the starting lineup was Ilgauskas. Ever since Big Z has been replaced, it seems that he keeps falling down the depth chart wherever he goes.
As of right now he plays center behind the likes of Joel Anthony, Udonis Haslem and Chris Bosh.
Erick Dampier was brought to the Dallas Mavericks in 2004 to do one thing, and that was to guard Shaq. However, Shaq moved to the East Coast that year when he joined the Miami Heat. Then in 2006 they met in the NBA Finals, where Shaq dominated the smaller Dampier.
Dampier never really was the dominant force the Mavs thought they were getting in him.
The 2002 Western Conference finals could have been the worst-officiated series in league history. Many believe that all of the calls went in Los Angeles' favor, but it was an all-around poor job by the refs. The series went to seven games, where the Lakers ultimately moved on.
After that series, the Sacramento Kings disbanded. Franchise superstar Chris Webber left for three brief stints with the Pistons, Warriors and 76ers. Stojakovic would find himself on the Pacers, and then the Hornets. Divac later signed with the Lakers. Doug Christie was traded to the Orlando Magic, and Mike Bibby was traded to Atlanta.
I bet the NBA would be a lot different if the Kings won that series.
After Shaq came to Miami, people started realizing how talented his big man pal Udonis Haslem was. Haslem brings a grit and toughness to a team. You could tell by how much the Heat missed him this season.
After Shaq brought the title to Miami, Haslem became a highly coveted player.
Other Miami Heat Players
Mike Miller: After Shaq left Orlando, a whole new wave of stars came including Mike Miller, who would win Rookie of the Year.
Juwan Howard: The Magic and Lakers almost completed a deal that would have essentially included Tracy McGrady and Juwan Howard going to Los Angeles for Shaq.
Mario Chalmers: When Shaq left Miami, a youth movement occurred where players like Jason Williams were replaced with younger players like Chlamers.
Joel Anthony: Shaq, along with Wade, pushed for the Heat to sign Joel Anthony.
Eddie House: House was a part of the Kings team that Shaq and the Lakers disbanded.
James Jones: Jones was apart of the youth movement that occurred after Shaq's departure.
Jamaal Magloire: Like Dampier, Magloire was brought onto the Hornets earlier this decade to find a way to cover Shaq.
Dexter Pittman: Shaq 2.0 (with nowhere near the skill).
Shaq, along with players like Tim Duncan and Bryant, may have unintentionally shaped Nowitzki's legacy. If the Mavs don't win the Finals this year, Dirk may become one of the few Hall of Famers that did not win a ring. This group includes the likes of Karl Malone, John Stockton and Charles Barkley to name a few.
If Shaq wasn't so dominant earlier this decade, especially in the 2006 Finals, then Nowitzki may be donning three or four rings at this point in his career.
However, Dirk has kind words about Shaq saying, "He's one of the all-time greats, not only on the court, but off the floor."
Shawn Marion, also known as the Matrix, has been affected by Shaq in two ways.
First, Marion and the Phoenix Suns were knocked out of the NBA playoffs by the Los Angeles Lakers in 2000.
Second, Marion was swapped for Shaq after Shaq showed his displeasure with the Heat organization. They quickly traded him to Phoenix for Marion and guard Marcus Banks. Marion would later be traded to the Raptors, and then find himself with the Mavs.
After the Lakers had enough of Shaq's poor attitude and dismal work ethic, they traded him to the Miami Heat essentially for lanky forward Lamar Odom and a young Caron Butler. Butler would then bounce around to the Wizards, where he would become an All-Star.
Another future Hall of Famer who could blame Shaq for his lack of rings.
First, Shaq beat Jason Kidd and the Nets in the NBA Finals in 2002. Then, when Shaq was in Miami, he knocked out Kidd in the Eastern Conference semifinals in five games.
Tyson Chandler says Shaq was like a mentor to him when he attended high school in Compton, California. He attended school when Shaq was with the Lakers, so they had a personal bond and Chandler got a lot of NBA advice from the Diesel.
Also, Chandler was the backup option for the Suns if they did not land Shaq from Miami in 2008.
Brendan Haywood has definitely been affected by the Big Aristotle. Like Chandler, Haywood says he was kind of like a mentor to him. After hearing of his retirement Haywood said, "He’s an all-time great, he’s a Hall of Famer, he’s a legend."
Other Mavericks Players
Jason Terry: He was brought in after guard Michael Finley was getting older and to get past the dominant Lakers led by Shaq.
Peja Stojakovic: SEE BIBBY!
J.J. Barea: The Mavericks had a youth movement once Shaq returned to the East Coast. This ushered in players like Jones, Mahinimi, Brewer, Beaubois and Barea.
Ian Mahinmi: Same as Barea.
Dominique Jones: Same as Barea.
Rodrigue Beaubois: Same as Barea.
Corey Brewer: Same as Barea.
DeShawn Stevenson: Shaq flagrant-fouled Stevenson in 2009 with one of the worst cheap shots in history.
Brian Cardinal: Is he even an NBA player?