NBA Legends: Shaq's 17 Greatest Games

Zachmo MarsupalamiCorrespondent IJanuary 30, 2011

NBA Legends: Shaq's 17 Greatest Games

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    BOSTON, MA - JANUARY 05:  Shaquille O'Neal #36 of the Boston Celtics is fouled by Manu Ginobili #20 of the San Antonio Spurs on January 5, 2011 at the TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downlo
    Elsa/Getty Images

    Probably because he is the oldest player in the entire NBA now, young fans often dismiss Shaquille O'Neal's greatness. However, it is a mistake to consider any player of the past 18 years as being greater than Shaq.

    In fact, O'Neal is the most dominant player of the past 18 years and is tied only with Tim Duncan with three Finals MVP awards. 

    Shaq was THE man in LA's three-peat from 2000 to 2002. In 2006 he played second fiddle to Wade in the Finals, but they would not have been there without him.

    O'Neal has scored more points than any active player with over 28,000 and up until now, he has been basically unstoppable since his rookie year in 1992-93.

    It is a testament to his awesome athleticism and intimidation factor that he was playing in the NBA in 1992 and now in 2011, he is on the East's best team so far.

    It is a travesty how NBA fans process greatness in 2011, but here we will study Shaq's 17 greatest NBA games ever and we will see what the man accomplished and how easily we forget. 

    Hype is one thing, but Shaq has always been unstoppable. 

No. 17: February 2009 Vs. Toronto

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    OAKLAND, CA - MARCH 15:  Shaquille O'Neal #32 of the Phoenix Suns dunks over Kelenna Azubuike #7 of the Golden State Warriors during an NBA game on March 15, 2009 at Oracle Arena in Oakland, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees
    Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

    This is the last truly awesome game Shaq had and he was already 36 years-old at the time.

    While playing for Phoenix, Shaq slaughtered the Raptors with 45 points on 20-for-25 from the field and 5-for-8 from the line. He added 11 rebounds, two assists, three steals and one block in a winning effort. 

No. 16: January 1993 Vs. Dallas

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    17 Nov 1993: Center Shaquille O''Neal of the Orlando Magic slam dunks against the Chicago Bulls during the ''92-''93 season at the United Center in Chicago, Illinois.
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Sixteen years before his 45-point game against Toronto, young and unstoppable Shaq abused the Mavericks as a rookie in his first-ever astonishing game.

    This game would let the world know that he was a battering ram who could not be contained.

    Shaq scored 38 points on 14-16 from the field and 10-14 from the line. He added 13 rebounds, two assists and an unbelievable seven blocked shots in the win. 

No. 15: April 2000 at Golden State

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    31 Mar 2000:  Matt Geiger #52 of the Philadelphia 76ers jumps to block a shot from Shaquille O''Neal of the Los Angeles Lakers during the game against the Los Angeles Lakers at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California. The Lakers defeated the 76ers 1
    Jeff Gross/Getty Images

    Shaq was named MVP in 2000 and for good reason.

    He lifted the otherwise flimsy Lakers to a title and before the playoffs began he dropped this doozy on Golden State.

    Shaq scored 49 points on 19-27 from the field and 11-16 from the line. He added 13 rebounds, one assist and three blocks in the win. 

No. 14: May 2001 Vs. Sacramento: 2nd Round Playoffs, Game 1

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    8 May 2001:  Shaquille O''Neal #34 of the Los Angeles Lakers makes a slam dunk during round two of the NBA Western Conference Playoff Game against the Sacramento Kings at the STAPLES Center in Los Angeles, California. The Lakers defeated the Kings 96-90.
    Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

    Sacramento realized the inevitable by the very first game of this series—Shaq would beat them and all they could hope to do was stop everyone else.

    The Big Aristotle scored 44 points, grabbed 21 rebounds and blocked seven shots. He even threw in four assists.

    Is there any doubt who the key to the three-peat was? I saw every game and it was WAY obvious. The Lakers would have lost without him—actually they wouldn't have even been in the playoffs without him. 

No. 13: January 2002 Vs. Denver

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    EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - JUNE 12:  Shaquille O'Neal #34 of the Los Angeles Lakers is defended by Todd MacCulloch #11 of the New Jersey Nets in Game four of the 2002 NBA Finals on June 12, 2002 at Continental Airlines Arena in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The
    Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

    The Lake Show somehow lost this game even though Shaq had a monster game with 40 points in 39 minutes on a crazy hot 17-22 from the field and 6-9 from the line.

    He threw in 11 rebounds, five assists, one steal and two blocks. 

No. 12: April 2000 Vs. Sacramento: First Round Playoffs, Game 1

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    30 Apr 2000: Center Shaquille O''Neal #34 of the Los Angeles Lakers shoots over Vlade Divac of the Sacramento Kings during game 3 of the first round of the Western Conference NBA Playoffs at Arco Arena in Sacramento, California. DIGITAL IMAGE. Mandatory C
    Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

    Shaq sent his first of many messages to Sacramento, that if they wanted to beat LA they had to stop him—they never could and they never did.

    In Game 1, he scored 46 points on 21-33 shooting and 4-5 from the line. He added 17 rebounds, one assist, two steals and five blocks in a dominant effort.

    Shaq took LA to its first title since 1988 soon afterward. 

No. 11: May 1998 Vs. Seattle Sonics: 2nd Round Playoffs

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    24 May, 1998:  Greg Foster #44 of the Utah Jazz guards Shaquille O''Neal #34 of the Los Angeles Lakers during the NBA Western Conference Finals at the NBA Great Western Forum in Inglewood, California.  The Jazz defeated the Lakers 96-92. Mandatory Credit:
    Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

    In this bone chilling win, Shaq dismantled the entire Seattle team through sheer intimidation and skill.

    Shaq almost had a triple double, making 15-20 shots from the field and 9-12 free throws for 39 points in 37 minutes of action. He also added eight rebounds, seven assists and five blocks!

No. 10: March 1994 Vs. Cleveland

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    10 NOV 1994:  SHAQUILLE O''NEAL OF THE ORLANDO MAGIC PULLS DOWN A REBOUND DURING A 101-99 LOSS TO THE NEW YORK KNICKS IN ORLANDO, FLORIDA.     Mandatory Credit: ALLSPORT
    Getty Images/Getty Images

    Seventeen years ago Shaq had an absolutely dominant game against Cleveland.

    Half of the NBA's fans today are under 18—no wonder they do not recognize this man's level of greatness.

    In this game Shaq scored 38 points, grabbed 15 boards, passed off for three assists, stole four balls and blocked three shots. He was 16-21 from the field and 6-10 from the line. Any questions? 

No. 9: March 2003 Vs. Boston

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    LOS ANGELES - DECEMBER 28:  Shaquille O'Neal #34 of  the Los Angeles Lakers grabs a rebound in front of Paul Pierce #34, Jiri Welsch #44 and Mark Blount #30 of the Boston Celtics on December 28, 2003 at Staples Center in Los Angeles, California. The Laker
    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    Yes, Shaq previously abused his current team.

    In 2003, Shaq scorched the Celtics for 48 points on 19-24 from the field and 10-19 from the line.

    Can you say un-freakin-stoppable?

    He added 20 rebounds, one assist, one steal and one block in the win.

    Boston is glad he is on their side now. 

No. 8: November 1999 Vs. Chicago

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    5 Dec 1999: Shaquille O''Neal #34 of the Los Angeles Lakers makes a slam dunk during the game against the Orlando Magic at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California. The Lakers defeated the Magic 117-100.  Mandatory Credit: Kellie Landis  /Allsport
    Kellie Landis/Getty Images

    Jordan scored 64 points on Shaq the first time they ever met.

    Shaq got his revenge on Chicago in 1999, but Michael was gone by then. Maybe he took his frustrations out when he had the chance, after Michael was already gone.

    In this game Shaq abused the hapless Bulls for 41 points, 17 rebounds and seven blocks! He made 11-13 from the field and an outlandish 19-31 from the line. Can you say hack-a-Shaq?

No. 7: December 1993 at Indiana

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    Oct 1993:  Center Shaquille O''Neal of the Orlando Magic leaps up for the ball during a game against the Atlanta Hawks at Wembley Stadium in London, England. Mandatory Credit: Mike Cooper  /Allsport
    Michael Cooper/Getty Images

    In his second season, Shaq sent an early message to the league with this 49 point, 11 rebound effort.

    Indiana was hopeless to stop Shaq, but they somehow still won the game. Shaq made 17-25 from the field and was 15-18 from the line.

    Nice free throw shooting Shaq!

No. 6: March 2001 Vs. Washington

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    05 Dec 2001:  Center Shaquille O''Neal #34 of the Los Angeles Lakers drives to the basket against the Dallas Mavericks during the NBA game at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California.  The Lakers defeated the Mavericks 98-94.  NOTE TO USER: User expr
    Adam Pretty/Getty Images

    In only 38 minutes, Shaq put in 40 points, grabbed 17 rebounds, dished off for eight assists, stole it three times and had five blocks. He was more dominant in every facet of the game, than any star of the 2000's and this is proof.

    He also made 15-25 from the field and 10-13 from the line. 

No. 5: February 1994 Vs. Seattle

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    4 NOV 1994:  SHAQUILLE O''NEAL OF THE ORLANDO MAGIC GOES UP FOR A SHOT DURING A 110-108  LOSS TO THE WASHINGTON BULLETS IN ORLANDO, FLORIDA.     Mandatory Credit: ALLSPORT
    Getty Images/Getty Images

    Again Shaq abused Seattle with 38 points, 20 rebounds, three assists, one steal and five blocks. He somehow made 16-19 shots and 6-7 from the line.

    Never in his dreams could Kobe shoot this high of a percentage from the field and Duncan did not dominate in this fashion.

    Shaq is sadly overlooked by fans today which is tragic, but he is the best of this generation. 

No. 4: March 1995 Vs. LA Lakers

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    5 Jan 1995:  Center Shaquille O''Neal of the Orlando Magic shoots the ball during a game against the Seattle SuperSonics at the Orlando Arena in Orlando, Florida.  The Magic won the game, 115-93. Mandatory Credit: Andy Lyons  /Allsport Mandatory Credit: A
    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    Sure enough, before Shaq got to LA he schooled the hell out of the Lakers, especially in this game.

    Orlando beat LA as Shaq played 42 minutes and made an amazing 20-26 shots and 6-10 from the line. He added 11 rebounds, four assists, one steal and five blocks.

    LA wanted this guy so they could win a title and they won three directly because of him. His supporting cast could have been almost anyone. 

No. 3: November 1994 Vs. Charlotte Hornets

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    24 Oct 1994: SHAQUILLE O''NEAL OF THE ORLANDO MAGIC ROUNDS A PHOENIX SUNS PLAYER DURING THE SUNS'' 135-129 WIN AT THE ORLANDO ARENA IN FLORIDA.
    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    In this win Shaq went off for 46 points and 20 rebounds. Yes, you read that correctly!

No. 2: April 1994 Vs. Minnesota

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    20 Mar 1994:  Center Shaquille O''Neal of the Orlando Magic shoots the ball during a game against the Los Angeles Lakers at the Great Western Forum in Inglewood, California. Mandatory Credit: Stephen Dunn  /Allsport Mandatory Credit: Stephen Dunn  /Allspo
    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    In only 36 minutes of action Shaq dismantled all of Minnesota's hopes of even trying to win this game.

    Shaq scored 53 points on 22-31 from the field and 9-13 from the line. He added 18 rebounds, four assists, two steals and two blocks.

    Man, Shaq was way more unstoppable than people these days give him credit for, which is the reason behind this slideshow. 

No. 1: March 2000 at LA Clippers

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    30 Dec 2000:  Shaquille O''Neal #34 of the Los Angeles Lakers and  Michael Olowokandi #34 of the Los Angeles Clippers jump for the ball by the net during the game at the STAPLES Center in Los Angeles, California.  The Lakers defeated the Clippers 116-114.
    Danny Moloshok/Getty Images

    This is actually the most dominant Lakers performance of the last decade. Kobe's 81 points and one assist against Toronto is surpassed by Shaq's 61 points and 23 rebounds against the Clippers.

    Both teams they played against sucked, but Shaq only took 35 shots to get there. He hit 24-35 and therefore only missed nine shots.

    This was a comeback game too, as Shaq dieseled his way to an amazing and overlooked performance. But no matter what people try and say, it was never scoring that utterly defined Shaq because he made most of the shots he took. He didn't shoot 45 percent, he shot 59 percent, and that says a lot.

    What defined Shaq was utter dominance, and no single player in the post-Jordan era dominated like Shaq, no matter what.

    The truth may hurt as much as getting dunked on by Shaq, but it is still the truth. 

Conclusion

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    BOSTON - NOVEMBER 24:  Shaquille O'Neal #36 of the Boston Celtics celebrates his basket in the fourth quarter against the New Jersey Nets on November 24, 2010 at the TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. The Celtics defeated the nets 89-83. NOTE TO USER: Us
    Elsa/Getty Images

    Appreciate Shaq while he is here, because he is one of the top 10 players of all-time. It is all about having BIG fundamentals! 

    Since Shaq came into the league in 1992 every single title team HAD TO have a dominant big man or two (except for all of Jordan's titles, but that is Michael Jordan, he did it anyway).

    1994: Olajuwon

    1995: Olajuwon

    1999: Robinson and Duncan

    2000: Shaq

    2001: Shaq

    2002: Shaq

    2003: Duncan and Robinson

    2004: Wallace and Wallace

    2005: Duncan

    2006: Shaq

    2007: Duncan

    2008: Garnett

    2009: Gasol

    2010: Gasol

    Shaq—you rule big man! 

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