Shaquille O’Neal’s Underrated Legacy in Lakers History

Shaquille O’Neal: When delving into the annals of basketball history to identify the greatest players, the task is no small feat given the abundance of talent that has graced the league. The Los Angeles Lakers, in particular, have been a powerhouse with a roster boasting at least half of the top-10 players of all time donning the iconic purple and gold jerseys.

One individual often overshadowed in these discussions is the legendary Shaquille O’Neal. Despite being undeniably one of the most dominant players in the sport, some critics tend to downplay his achievements, citing his struggles with shooting, free throws, and occasional fitness issues as detractors.

Shaquille O'Neal

A recent episode of ESPN’s “First Take” added fuel to this ongoing debate when Chris “Mad Dog” Russo placed O’Neal at the fifth spot on the all-time center list. This perspective drew surprise from analysts Stephen A. Smith and Jay Williams. In response, O’Neal asserted his claim as the most dominant center ever, positioning himself at the third spot in the all-time rankings on his podcast, “The Big Podcast.”

Shaquille O’Neal‘s assertion is rooted in the reality

It’s noteworthy that O’Neal, despite his self-proclaimed title as the most dominant big man, humbly ranked himself below Lakers legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and the late Boston Celtics icon Bill Russell. O’Neal’s assertion is rooted in the reality of his physical dominance, as no other player could match up to his prowess on the court.

O’Neal solidified his place in basketball history by joining the Lakers and securing three consecutive championships from 2000 to 2002. His partnership with Kobe Bryant formed one of the most iconic duos in NBA history, leaving an indelible mark with a plethora of highlights.

Shaquille O'Neal

Throughout his illustrious career, O’Neal claimed the title of two-time scoring champion, four-time NBA champion, three-time Finals MVP, three-time All-Defensive team member, and one-time MVP. With such a stellar resume, it becomes challenging to justify ranking a player of O’Neal’s caliber as the fifth-best center of all time.

This decision left Shaquille O’Neal disappointed

Notably, this isn’t the first time O’Neal has found himself underrated in all-time rankings. Rapper Lil Wayne, in a recent discussion about his all-time Lakers starting lineup, initially included O’Neal but later reconsidered. This decision left O’Neal disappointed, illustrating that determining the top five Lakers of all time is no easy task.

Shaquille O'Neal

In reevaluating O’Neal’s legacy, it is crucial to appreciate the impact he had on the Lakers and the game as a whole. His dominance on the court, combined with his contributions to the Lakers’ championship success, solidifies his place among the all-time greats. Despite occasional setbacks in all-time rankings, Shaquille O’Neal’s legacy as a Lakers legend remains a testament to his unparalleled influence on the sport of basketball.

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