- The Season's Over -

Shaquille O’Neal Cements His Legacy

March 5, 2009

Shaq is an IngrateOver his admittedly illustrious career Shaquille O’Neal has proven himself one of the most dominant big men in the history of basketball. He’s a 4-time NBA Champion, the 2000 NBA MVP, was the ’92-’93 NBA Rookie of the Year, has been a NBA Finals MVP three times, was the NBA scoring champ twice and has earned a trip to 15 All Star games.

You can’t argue with that success. What you can say, though, is that he’s an obnoxious ingrate that doesn’t deserve a lick of it.

Shaq hit the genetic lottery and he’s translated that into a remarkable career. Good for him. But it’s been a decade since we can actually say he worked hard for an entire season. He takes more games off than any player in the league and more often than not shows up to camp woefully out of shape, content to rest on that raw physical supremacy and never push himself to his fullest potential.

He’s never bothered to learn to shoot free throws. He hasn’t made a 12-foot jumper in about four years. He’s never made an effort to foster team chemistry or to get along with teammates or coaches. He’s never put the team before his own bloated, sweaty ego.

He’s fueded with Kobe Bryant and Phil Jackson, ending a Lakers dynasty that could have been one of the best in NBA history. He’s made racist remarks about Yao Ming. He’s dug on nearly every former coach and former city and team he’s played for. There’s a reason fans in every city he’s ever played in have learned to hate Shaq shortly after his departure (usually by virtue of a trade demand): he’s an ass. Be careful where you devote your idolatry, Phoenix. You’re next.

As my colleague Brian put it so well last summer, nobody in NBA history better personifies petulance than Shaquille O’Neal.

Of late he’s been spouting off with renewed vigor. His idiot manchild brain unable to process his own increasing irrelevance, he’s lashing out. Hot off his unprovoked attack on NBA good-guy Chris Bosh in which he called the Toronto Raptors center, “the RuPaul of big men,” Shaq proved to be just getting warmed up. O’Neal tried to start a war of words with the gregarious Dwight Howard prior to their meeting on Tuesday, one which Dwight wisely didn’t want anything to do with. Dwight, the NBA’s current best center despite Shaq’s indignance, and the Magic prevailed. Poor Shaq didn’t like it. The big man’s response proved the axiom: jealousy is ugly.

After the game Stan Van Gundy, his former coach from Miami, expressed dismay at a Shaq flop. It’s understandable because not only is O’Neal the biggest man on the floor but he’s also been the most outspoken critic of flops in the NBA for ten years. Van Gundy said after the game, “I was shocked, seriously, shocked. And very disappointed cause he knows what it’s like. Lets stand up and play like men, and I think our guy did that tonight.”

Shaq’s response? Take gutless, pedantic shots at everybody he could think of from Stan Van Gundy to his brother Jeff to Patrick Ewing. The transcript is below. I’ve never understood why he gets such a free pass for his childish behavior and remarks and why the NBA blogosphere is always all-too-eager to yuck it up at the latest instance of “Shaq being Shaq,” but I think we can all agree that this time he’s not just crossed but obliterated the line of decorum, professionalism and adult behavior. The man is an insufferable jackass by any definition of the term.

Can we finally stop shrugging his antics off and call a spade a spade? Shaq is the most classless professional athlete in America.

Read the entire transcript of Shaq’s remarks, after the jump…

Major props to C.Y. Ellis over at Hoops Vibe for the following transcription of Shaq’s response to Stan Van Gundy:

He (Howard) came with the same old, stale Patrick Ewing move so I tried to stand there and take the charge. The new rules say if you come through, you fall. But as I fell, I realized that it was a flop and it reminded me of Coach Van Gundy’s whole coaching career. The one thing I despise is a frontrunner. First of all, none of his players like him. When it gets tough, he will become the master of panic like he did before and he will quit like he did before. The one thing I despise is frontrunners. Yeah, he’s got a young team playing good but don’t be a frontrunner. Him and his brother and even the legend on the bench ain’t done what I’ve done in my whole career. So flopping would be the wrong choice of words.

I just tried to take a charge. The fucking rules say you can’t stand there and get hit. You’ve got to fall. He got the same old stinking move that Patrick Ewing has been doing his whole career. I went down, got up and didn’t complain. I see him and Stan complaining the whole game because they’ve got to. Remember, I’ve done more than him, his brother and Patrick Ewing.

Stan Van Gundy reminds me of a broke navigational system. He knows everything about everything but ain’t never been nowhere. Think about that. If I’m right here and I type in the address of where you’re going, I know where it’s at but I’m not going there.

When a bum says some shit about it and I respond, you can fucking cancel that cuz I know how he is in real life. We’ll see when the playoffs start and he fucking panics and quits like he did when he was here (in Miami). And you fucking print it just like that. Do I look soft to you like you can say something and I’m not going to say something?

Notice they didn’t play me straight up. We’ll see how far they go cuz I know Stan. I said this a long time ago but I was actually talking about him: ’When the general panics, the troops will panic. Like in business, when the head panics and takes out all his stock, what happens?

All the players hate him. The players don’t even like him. I hate frontrunners. I really do. I don’t like any frontrunners. There’s a pecking order involved. I’ve been there six times.

I ain’t going to let no bum like him rip me and not say anything back. You can cancel that shit all the way. Usually, I let shit go. Not that. Not him. Hell no.

The rules say when a guy goes through your chest you’ve got to fall to get the call. It was a flop. You’ve watched me play for 17 years. I don’t play like that.

I’m not going to sit around and let nobodies take a shot at me and he is a nobody to me. And if he thinks he can get in a little press conference and take shots at me like I’m not going to say something back, he’s got another thing coming.

Usually you let things go, Shaq? Strange, I can’t remember that ever happening.

For me it took place long ago, but hopefully for many others that’s the final straw. Hopefully he’s ensured that we don’t remember Shaq for any of his on-court greatness, but as one of the biggest jackasses in sports history. A big, hyper-sensitive child.

As I write this with 1:21 remaining in the Miami-Phoenix game Shaq has just knocked Dwyane Wade to the ground. In trademark Shaq fashion, instead of offering a hand to help his former teammate up (the guy he rode to an NBA Championship), he chose to arrogantly stand over Wade, glaring at him like the big, stubborn mule that he is.

Stay classy, Shaquille.

Related Reading:
- Does Anybody Personify Petulance More Than Shaquille O’Neal?
- The NBA’s Most Depressing Players of 2008
- Shaquille O’Neal Still Keeping it Classy
- Shaq Likes to Breath Heavily Into His Cell Phone

Shaq photo credit: Icon SMI

23 Comments »Posted by Andrew Thell on Mar. 5, 2009 at 1:04 am in ETB Articles, NBA

23 Responses

“I can’t stop Shaq from saying anything,” Howard said. “I just wouldn’t expect that coming from him. But the only thing I would expect from him is that he would try to help me improve my game and that’s it.”

And when asked if Shaq has done that, Howard said “No.”

Posted by: Brian Spencer on March 5th, 2009 at 2:05 am

Well said, Andrew. Shaq is very concerned about his legacy among NBA big men and has often said that wherever he goes, they don’t forget him.

When he opens his mouth in this way, we don’t forget him for all the wrong reasons.


Posted by: Mark McLane on March 5th, 2009 at 9:36 am

Very well written. I couldn’t agree with you more. How the media has given this guy a free ride for so many years is beyond me. He’s not funny, he’s not cute, he’s just an arrogant self centered asshole.

Posted by: Roger on March 5th, 2009 at 10:05 am

His off-court antics coupled with his stellar numbers have endeared him to many fans and others associated with the NBA. Unfortunately the immaturity that fuels those antics also fuel this kind of nonsense. He started the season humble because his numbers were down. As soon as he makes a splash again he’s running his mouth. I too hope that people start to see him for what he is.

Posted by: Peach B. on March 5th, 2009 at 10:14 am

Gotta love Van Gundy’s response:

“Whatever. I don’t know. . . that’s his estimation of my coaching. I’m not going to worry about it too much,” Van Gundy said. “Actually, that (Shaq’s criticism) puts me in good company, very good company. He’s taken shots at Phil Jackson and Pat Riley, so maybe I should consider it an honor.”

Posted by: Andrew Thell on March 5th, 2009 at 11:54 am

It looks like someone else shares those same childish name-calling antics.
How you were allowed to write your own article is news to me.

Stay bias and hypocritical, Andrew.

Posted by: Steve on March 5th, 2009 at 12:59 pm

You do realize there’s a guy ON HIS OWN TEAM driving around 90 in a 35 with a 3 year old out of his child’s seat right?


Posted by: Phil Anselmo on March 5th, 2009 at 1:16 pm

In case you missed it, I added in the video of “Shaq being Shaq” with Wade last night.

Posted by: Andrew Thell on March 5th, 2009 at 2:11 pm

What kind of lover do you think Shaq is? I can’t see him being very giving or attentive…

Posted by: Roger on March 5th, 2009 at 3:11 pm

I imagine him to be very much like the lovable scamps in Milk Money.

Posted by: Andrew Thell on March 5th, 2009 at 3:30 pm

Over a decade since Shaq worked hard for an entire season? ’99-’00, the year the Lakers won their first title, Shaq was dominant all season on his way to the MVP trifecta (all-star, regular season, and finals). Do you watch basketball, or just bitch about it. And what about his first season in Miami? I am a Laker fan, but I hate that your making me stick up for Shaq. I just can’t stand ignorance. better luck next time crybaby.

Posted by: Citylife 80 on March 5th, 2009 at 3:47 pm

THANK YOU, Andrew. Sometimes I really feel like I’m the only one who sees this.

I like your point about the effort too: imagine if someone with Shaq’s physical genes had Jordan’s competitive drive. Yikes.

Posted by: Jeremy on March 5th, 2009 at 4:00 pm

It’s funny that it took until now for the majority of people to shift judgment regarding Shaq, The Big Aristotle, or any other nickname that he has coined his narcissistic self.

Kobe has shouldered the blame for the demise of the Championship Lakers, while Shaq was always put on higher ground. While I didn’t agree with some of Shaq’s comments towards Kobe, he never sacrificed the integrity of the game with any of his views towards Kobe.

However, this recent commentary – attacking Stan Van Gundy is absolutely unacceptable. He venomously attacked VanGundy both as a coach and a player, while disrespecting one of the game’s greats – Patrick Ewing.

But the media and majority of America will laugh it off after the next press conference when he playfully coins a new phrase, or deliveres his personally tailored brand of sarcasm.

Posted by: ohiobasketball on March 5th, 2009 at 4:29 pm

great article andrew. i dont know why shaq is doing this, he’s nearly retiring and if he continues to diss coaches and players like this, he will be remembered as being a total jack*** than what was his greatness on the court..

Posted by: bash on March 5th, 2009 at 8:13 pm

Well said, Andrew. This is the kind of article I’ve been waiting for someone to write. Why rip on Chris Bosh and Dwight Howard? These are guys who have never offended another person because they are class acts. By ripping on them it also cemented in my mind his legacy… and it wasn’t in a good way.

Posted by: Ryan on March 5th, 2009 at 8:38 pm

couple things.
first of all, shaq is the most dominant force to ever play the game hands down. say what you want about wilt, but he was playing in an age where there was still a big predjudice and unspoken rules about who got on the court and playing time. yes he was big, strong and looks freakish in video, but if he had to bang against the lies of an alonzo, ewing, the dream, bill wennington and vitaly potapenko on a nightly basis as shaq had, im sure the 55-25 seasons would be slightly harder to come by.

Posted by: wes coas bias on March 6th, 2009 at 12:59 am

Shaq himself is the most dominant big the game has ever seen, so gives a hoot n a holler if he hasnt shot a 14 footer in his life.Forget the painted area (copywright hubie brown -year of our lord 1975 BC), Youre not winning games with shaq anywhere away from the charge circle. I mean Monta Ellis cant shoot 3 pointers worth a lick, but that doesnt mean he didnt have potential to be the best 2 gaurd in the game 3 years from now. (god im so sad i had to phrase that in past tense. heres a question, when was the last time youve even SEEN a moped?
seriously. ill wait…)

Posted by: wes coas bias on March 6th, 2009 at 1:00 am

Anyway Shaq is what he is. Talented. So is Barry Bonds. instead of chastising these guys for being jerks why dont we take a minute to soak up what it would be like to be head and shoulders (in shaqs case, literally) above youre competition youre entire life. Im sorry, but Id probably be a little jerkish too. Having things handed to me day in and day out. on top of that no one ever says “good job” cause they expect it. They only say “well he could be better”. Drove barry to steroids. In shaqs case hes been the target of every flop and charge draw of the past 15 years.
its like my girlfriend complaining cause I spank her too hard. im sorry, im 6’4” 200lbs and youre 5’1″ a buck and a couple dimes. im not doing it hard, its just my half strength is still her full. which brings me to my next point.

Posted by: wes coas bias on March 6th, 2009 at 1:02 am

which brings me to my next point.
Dwaynes rediclous flop shown in your clip. you dont need a replay or slowmo to see that that was an obvious attempt to draw a foul. Sure it was a foul but Dwayne went into the whole motion with nothing else on his mind. “Bump shaq, fly backwards awkwardly, lay there for affect, dust myself off, text barkely during timeout on my Tmobile Sidekick, tie my converses, walk to the line, spin ball, deep breath, reenact the 4th quarter of games 3-6 of the 06 finals, the end”
Has anyone out there ever played competitive sports?

Posted by: wes coas bias on March 7th, 2009 at 5:41 pm

You, sir, are a lunatic.

Posted by: Andrew Thell on March 7th, 2009 at 9:27 pm

I’m SO GLAD that someone has finally written down (for all to see) what some of us have seen and known for a long time. Shaq is a complete buffoon and totally void of any kind of class. ALWAYS HAS BEEN. ALWAYS WILL BE. And as Kelly Dwyer said if he had been traded to Cleveland he would’ve thrown EVERYONE in Phoenix under the bus too. HE’S a POS in EVERY POSSIBLE WAY YOU CAN BE ONE..

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