Shaq straddled three eras of basketball. He got to play in the golden age of the early 1990’s against Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley, Hakeem Olajawon, Patrick Ewing, David Robinson. They’re all long gone and retired, having moved on to other basketball endeavors. He got to play with Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, and Grant Hill and battled against the likes of Tim Duncan, Yao Ming and Allen Iverson in the new millennium.
He has has even bridged the gap at the dawning of a new era in the NBA. He’s played with Dwayne Wade and LeBron James, and watched Dwight Howard take his Superman mantle in Orlando. Kobe Bryant and Paul Pierce are the old dogs now. The Class of 2003 and later is rising.
I realized that the main narrative thread that was woven throughout my entire basketball life was Shaquille O’Neal, and now he is gone. It is a strange new world this morning, and I look forward to seeing what this champion has in store for the future. One can only hope that he’ll join Chuck, E.J., Kenny and Chris Webber on Inside the NBA. That would be one entertaining roundtable!
Shaquille O’Neal is a champion through and through. He has too many accomplishments to list, including 4 championships, a regular season MVP, 3 Finals MVPs and a gold medal. He brought a smile to our face with his antics, and that is how I will choose to remember him as a Lakers fan.
The further removed we get from the name-calling after 2004 and the team hopping in his last few seasons, the easier it will be to appreciate what he did for us as Lakers fans and as basketball fans. People will inevitably view him through rose-colored glasses as the years go by, but that’s okay because he continued the great and time-honored tradition of dominant Lakers big men and entertained us all for 19 years.[phpbay], 3 , “”[/phpbay]