#5 – The Diesel
Superman. The Big Aristotle. M.D.E. (Most Dominant Ever). L.C.L. (Last Center Left). The Big Shakespeare. Wilt Chamberneezy. Officer Shaq. The Big Deporter. Shaq Daddy. Shaq-Fu. Big Daddy. The Big Baryshnikov. Dr. Shaq. Osama Bin Shaq. The Big Cactus. Whatever you call him, you can’t escape the power and personality that is Shaquille O’Neal. When he arrived in Lakerland during the summer of 1996, he had the entire city of Los Angeles in the massive palm of his hand.
Over the years he gave himself so many nicknames that we lost count, but the enduring image of Shaq smashing through opposing centers like a Mack Truck leaves us longing for his greatest moniker: The Diesel. No other player in professional sports has physically manhandled an entire league the way Shaquille O’Neal did from 1999 to 2005. In his prime, he was a force of nature the likes the NBA has never seen before. He was 350 pounds yet somehow seemed light on his feet. He abused opposing centers with reckless abandon.
He celebrated his 28th birthday with a ridiculous 61 point-23 rebound performance that stands as one of the most dominant games in league history. He was Wilt Chamberlain and Darryl Dawkins rolled into one. He ripped rims right out of the backboard like the Incredible Hulk. He was nothing short of superhuman when the Lakers needed him most. He was the Diesel, and we’ll never see a force quite like him again.
Next: The Lore of Number 4