O'Neal, Shaquille (1972- ), American basketball player, considered one of the greatest players in National Basketball Association (NBA) history. A dominating post player (center), the 7-ft, 1-in O'Neal led the Los Angeles Lakers to three consecutive NBA titles in the late 1990s and early 2000s.
Shaq, as he is often called, was born in Newark, New Jersey. He attended high school in San Antonio, Texas, where he led the school team to the state championship. O'Neal then entered Louisiana State University (LSU) in 1989. He quickly became a dominating player in college basketball, and he averaged 21.6 points and 13.5 rebounds per game over three seasons. In his last year at LSU he led the nation in blocked shots and was second in rebounding.
In 1992 O'Neal entered the NBA draft and was the first player chosen. He was selected by the Orlando Magic, then a recent expansion team. Although his inexperience was evident in his first professional year, O'Neal's high level of play made him a nearly unanimous choice as rookie of the year for the 1992-93 season.
That year he led the league's rookies in points (23.4), rebounds (13.9), and blocked shots (3.53) per game, and he was second overall in rebounds and eighth overall in scoring. During the 1993-94 season O'Neal's play continued to improve. He led the NBA in field-goal percentage (.599) and finished second in points (29.3) and rebounds (13.2) per game. In 1994 he was also a member of the United States national basketball team known as Dream Team II, which won the gold medal at the world basketball championships in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
In the 1994-95 season O'Neal led the Magic to the NBA Finals, where they lost to the Houston Rockets. O'Neal's success continued the following year, when he was selected as...