Shaquille O'Neal's Career Highlights and Achievements

Shaquille O’Neal’s Career Highlights and Achievements [Year-By-Year]

Category: Basketball


With a simple tweet, Shaquille O’Neal announces his retirement after 19 years of playing in the NBA.

It’s so sad to see a great player go but it’s about time. The self-proclaimed Superman was only able to play in 37 games in the regular season for the Boston Celtics due to an Achilles injury.

His mind still wants to go at another championship run but his body just can’t take anymore the years of banging inside.

Lets’ go down memory lane and have a look at Shaq’s achievements, rewards received and other important highlights in his larger-than-life NBA career:

Orlando Magic (1992–1996)

1992-93 Drafted by the Orlando Magic as the first overall pick in the 1992 NBA Draft where he was named the 1993 NBA Rookie of the Year and became the first rookie to be voted an All-Star starter since Michael Jordan in 1985. During his rookie season, O’Neal averaged 23.4 points on 56.2% shooting, 13.9 rebounds, and 3.5 blocks per game for the season. Shaq’s rookie season was punctuated by two dunks where he not only broke the backboards, he brought down the entire contraption with him.

Check out Shaq’s rookie year highlights:

1993-94 O’Neal improved his scoring average to 29.4 points while leading the NBA in field goal percentage at 60%. On November 20, 1993, against the New Jersey Nets, O’Neal registered the first triple-double of his career, recording 24 points to go along with career highs of 28 rebounds and 15 blocks. The Magic finished with a record of 50–32 and made the playoffs for the first time in franchise history.

1994-95 In his third season, O’Neal’s 29.3 point average led the NBA in scoring. He finished second in MVP voting to David Robinson and was voted into his third straight All-Star Game. O’Neal made first Finals appearance, averaging 28 points on 59.5% shooting, 12.5 rebounds, and 6.3 assists but his team was swept by the Hakeem Olajuwon and the Houston Rockets in four games.

1995-96 O’Neal was injured for a great deal of the 1995–96 season, missing 28 games. He averaged 26.6 points and 11 rebounds per game, made the All-NBA 3rd Team, and played in his 4th All-Star Game. Despite O’Neal’s injuries, the Magic finished with a regular season record of 60–22, second in the Eastern conference to the Chicago Bulls, who finished with an NBA record 72 wins. Orlando easily defeated the Detroit Pistons and the Atlanta Hawks in the first two rounds of the 1996 NBA Playoffs; however, they were no match for Jordan’s Bulls, who swept them in the Eastern Conference Finals.

O’Neal became a free agent after the 95–96 NBA season. In the summer of 1996, O’Neal was named to the United States Olympic basketball team, and was later part of the gold medal-winning team at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta.

Check out Shaq’s Orlando Magic years highlights:

Los Angeles Lakers (1996–2004)

1996-97 O’Neal averaged 26.2 points and 12.5 rebounds in his first season with Los Angeles; however, he again missed over 30 games due to injury. The Lakers won 56 games and made the playoffs, but were eliminated by the Utah Jazz in five games.

1997-98 O’Neal averaged 28.3 points and 11.4 rebounds. He also led the league with a 58.4 field goal percentage, the first of five consecutive seasons in which he did so. He earned All-NBA First Team honors for the first time in his career. The Lakers finished the season 61–21, first in the Pacific Division, and were the second seed in the western conference during the 1998 NBA Playoffs. After defeating the Portland Trail Blazers and Seattle SuperSonics in the first two rounds, the Lakers again fell to the Jazz, this time in a 4–0 sweep.

1998-99 Averaged 26.3 points on .576 shooting, 10.7 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 1.7 blocks in 34.8 minutes and earned All-NBA Second Team honors. The Lakers finished with a 31–19 record during the lockout-shortened season. Although they made the playoffs, they were swept by the San Antonio Spurs, led by Tim Duncan and David Robinson in the second round of the Western Conference playoffs.

In 1999, the Lakers hired Phil Jackson as head coach, and the team’s fortunes soon changed. Using Jackson’s triangle offense, O’Neal and Bryant enjoyed tremendous success, leading the Lakers to three consecutive titles (2000, 2001, and 2002).

1999-00 Was voted the 1999–2000 regular season Most Valuable Player, one vote short of becoming the first unanimous MVP in NBA history after averaging 29.7 points on .574 shooting, 13.6 rebounds, 3.8 assists, 3.0 blocks in 40.0 minute. He won the scoring title while finishing second in rebounds and third in blocked shots. He became the NBA’s first player since Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in 1976-77 to finish in the top three in the league in points, rebounds, field goal percentage and blocked shots. Scored a career-high 61 points and grabbed 23 rebounds at the L.A. Clippers on March 6 to become the first player to tally a 60-point, 20-rebound game since Wilt Chamberlain in 1969.

Check out video of that feat here:

Aside from the MVP honors during the regular season, he was the All-Star Game (co-MVP) and NBA Finals MVP, becoming only the third player in NBA history to accomplish that feat. He was a unanimous All-NBA First Team selection, becoming only the fifth unanimous selection, was NBA All-Defensive Second Team for the first time in his career, was a three-time NBA Player of the Month (November, February and March), becoming the first player to receive the award three times in a single season.

This was one of the most dominant seasons ever put up by any NBA player.

Averaged 38.0 points on .611 shooting, 16.7 rebounds, 2.7 blocks and 2.3 assists in the NBA Finals while setting numerous free-throw NBA records against the Indiana Pacers.

2000-01 Averaged 28.7 points on .572 shooting, 12.7 rebounds, 3.7 assists, 2.8 blocks and 39.5 minutes to ranked third in the league in scoring average and rebound average and fourth in blocks per game. He captured All-NBA First Team honors and NBA All-Defensive Second Team selection.

In the NBA Finals, he averaged 33.0 points on .573 shooting, 15.8 rebounds, 4.8 assists and 3.4 blocks in the five-game series against Philadelphia as he was named MVP.

He dominated Dikembe Mutombo, one of the greatest shot blockers and defensive players of all time, winning the NBA Defensive Player of the Year Award four times.

2001-02 Averaged 27.2 points on .579 shooting, 10.7 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 2.0 blocks in 36.1 minutes to rank second in the league in scoring average and tenth in blocks per game as he was named an All-NBA First Team member. He led the NBA in field goal percentage for the fifth consecutive season and in free throws attempted (717) for the fourth straight year.

He was named NBA Finals MVP for the third consecutive season after averaging 36.3 points on .595 shooting, 12.3 rebounds, 3.8 assists, 2.8 blocks in the four-game sweep over the Nets, earning him his third consecutive NBA championship. He joined Michael Jordan as the only players to win three consecutive NBA Finals MVP Award. His 145 points in the NBA Finals set an NBA Finals record for most points in a four-game series. Also set NBA Finals records for most free throws made (45) and attempted (68) in a four-game series.

2002-03 O’Neal missed the first 12 games of the 2002–2003 season recovering from toe surgery as the Lakers started the season with a record of 11–19. He averaged 27.5 points on .574 shooting, 11.1 rebounds, 3.1 assists, 2.4 blocks in 37.8 minutes and was an All-NBA First Team selection and an NBA All-Defensive Second Team honoree.

The Lakers finished the season with a 50-32 record and only managed a 5th seed ranking. They ultimately lost to eventual champion San Antonio Spurs in the Conference Semifinals, 4-2.

After the Lakers fell to the fifth seed and failed to reach the Finals in 2003, the team made a concerted off-season effort to improve its roster. They sought the free-agent services of forward Karl Malone and aging guard Gary Payton, but due to salary cap restrictions, could not offer either one nearly as much money as they could have made with some other teams. O’Neal assisted in the recruitment efforts and personally persuaded both men to join the squad. Ultimately, both signed, each forgoing larger salaries in favor of a chance to win an NBA championship, which neither had accomplished in his career (and which neither would achieve with the Lakers).

2003-04 Averaged 21.5 points on .584 shooting, 11.5 rebounds, 2.9 assists, 2.5 blocks in 36.8 minutes. Named MVP in the All-Star Game. The Lakers returned to the Finals but was defeated by the Detroit Pistons 4-1.

The Lakers’ collapse became apparent in the days following the Finals. Head coach Phil Jackson abruptly resigned as head coach. On July 14, 2004, O’Neal was traded to the Miami Heat for Caron Butler, Lamar Odom, Brian Grant and a future first-round draft choice. O’Neal reverted from (his Lakers jersey) number 34 to number 32, which he had worn while playing for the Magic

Miami Heat (2004–2008)

2004-05 With O’Neal on board, the new-look Heat surpassed expectations, claiming the best record in the Eastern Conference. He averaged 22.9 ppg and 10.4 rpg, made his 12th consecutive All-Star Team, and made the All-NBA 1st Team. O’Neal narrowly lost the 2004–05 MVP Award to Phoenix Suns guard Steve Nash in one of the closest votes in NBA history. He was named The Sporting News Player of the Year as voted on by the league’s general managers. Averaged at least 20 points and 10 rebounds for the 13th consecutive year, setting an NBA record breaking the mark of 12 straight years that he shared with Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Hakeem Olajuwon.

Despite being hobbled by a deep thigh bruise, O’Neal led the Heat to the Eastern Conference Finals and a Game 7 against the defending champion Detroit Pistons, losing by a narrow margin.

2005-06 In the second game of the season, O’Neal injured his right ankle and subsequently missed the following 18 games. On April 11, 2006, O’Neal recorded his second career triple-double against the Toronto Raptors with 15 points, 11 rebounds and a career high 10 assists. He averaged 20.0 points on .600 percent shooting, 9.2 rebounds, 1.9 assists, 1.8 blocks and 30.6 minutes  and O’Neal finished the season as the league leader in field goal percentage.

In the 2006 NBA Finals, the Miami Heat win its first ever title against the Dallas Mavericks.

O’Neal put up considerably lower numbers compared to those he recorded during the 2005–06 regular season, but he twice delivered dominant games in order to close out a playoff series: a 30 point, 20 rebound effort in Game 6 against the Chicago Bulls in the first round, and a 28 point, 16 rebound, 5 block effort in Game 6 against the Pistons. It was O’Neal’s fourth title in seven seasons, and fulfilled his promise of delivering an NBA championship to Miami.

2006-07 Averaged 17.3 points on .591 shooting, 7.4 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.4 blocked shots in 28.4 minutes while missing the next 35 games after an injury to his left knee in November required surgery. In a rematch of the year before, the Heat faced the Bulls in the first round. The Heat struggled against the Bulls and although O’Neal put up reasonable numbers, he was not able to dominate the series. The Bulls outplayed their opponents, resulting in a sweep. It was the first time in ten years that O’Neal did not advance into the second round. In the 2006–07 season O’Neal reached 25,000 career points, becoming the 14th player in NBA history to accomplish that milestone. However, it was the first season in O’Neal’s career that his scoring average dropped below 20 points per game.

2007-08 O’Neal experienced a rough start for the 2007–08 season, averaging career lows in points, rebounds and blocks. His role in the offense diminished, as he attempted only 10 field goals per game, versus his career average of 17. In addition, O’Neal was plagued by fouls, and during one stretch fouled out five consecutive games. O’Neal’s streak of 14 straight All-Star appearances ended that season.

On February 6, 2008, Shaq was traded to the Phoenix Suns for Shawn Marion and Marcus Banks.

Check out Shaq’s Miami Heat years highlights:

Phoenix Suns (2008–2009)

2008 O’Neal made his Suns debut on February 20, 2008 against his former Lakers team, scoring 15 points and grabbing 9 rebounds in the process. In 28 regular-season games, O’Neal averaged 12.9 points and 10.6 rebounds. One of the reasons for the trade was to limit Tim Duncan in the event of a postseason matchup between the Suns and the San Antonio Spurs, especially after the Suns’ six-game elimination by the Spurs in the 2007 NBA Playoffs. O’Neal and the Phoenix Suns did face the Spurs in the first round of the playoffs, but they were once again eliminated, lasting five games. O’Neal averaged 15.2 points, 9.2 rebounds and 1.0 assists per game.

2008-09 Averaged 17.8 points, his highest scoring average since 2005-06, to go along with 8.4 rebounds and 30.1 minutes in 75 games (all starts), his most games played in a single season since the 1999-00 season. Was named an All-NBA Third Team Selection. He made his 15th career NBA All-Star appearance, second-most in league history (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar) and emerged as co-MVP along with ex-teammate Kobe Bryant.

[Shaq puts on a show at the 2009 NBA All-Star Game!]

He led the league in field goal percentage for the 10th time in his career, establishing a new NBA record and breaking the mark he previously shared with Wilt Chamberlain. On February 27, 2009, O’Neal scored 45 points and grabbed 11 rebounds, his 49th career 40-point game, beating the Toronto Raptors 133–113 to become just the third player in NBA history to score 40 or more points with four different teams (Orlando, L.A. Lakers, Miami, Phoenix), joining Bernard King and Stephon Marbury. He followed that up with a 33-point effort on March 1 vs. Lakers to become just the fourth player in NBA history over the age of 35 and the first since Michael Jordan in 2002 to score 33 or more points in consecutive games (Alex English, Karl Malone).

The Phoenix Suns failed to make the NBA Playoffs. It was the first time since O’Neal’s rookie season in 1992–93 that he did not participate in the playoffs.

On June 25, 2009, O’Neal was traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers for Sasha Pavlovic, Ben Wallace, $500,000 and a 2010 second round draft pick. In the press conference introducing Shaq, he pulled off a picture of him and team general manager Danny Ferry in a very uncompromising situation.

Cleveland Cavaliers (2009–2010)

2009-10 O’Neal averaged career lows in almost every major statistical category, taking on a much less significant role than in previous years. His presence in the post was not as significant as in years past. Played in 53 games while averaging 12.0 points on .566 shooting and 6.7 rebounds in 23.4 minutes per game. After the retirement of Lindsey Hunter on March 5, O’Neal became the NBA’s oldest active player.

On January 10, Shaq became the fifth player to score 28,000 career points and moved to fifth on the NBA’s all-time scoring list.

He returned to the starting line-up in time for the 2010 NBA Playoffs. The Cavaliers swiftly defeated the Chicago Bulls in the first round, yet Cleveland became the first team in NBA history to miss the NBA Finals after laying claim to the NBA’s top playoff seed for two consecutive seasons. On May 13, the Cavaliers were eliminated from the playoffs, losing to the Boston Celtics 4–2 in the Eastern Conference semifinals.

In the postseason, Shaq hosted a reality TV show on ABC titled Shaq VS where he challenges numerous top athletes in their own sports.

On August 4, 2010, the Celtics announced that they had signed O’Neal. The contract was for two years at the veteran minimum salary for a total contract value of $2.8 million. He was introduced by the Celtics on August 10, 2010, and chose the number 36. He became the Big Shamrock.

Boston Celtics (2010–2011)

2010-11 O’Neal missed games throughout the season due to an assortment of ailments to his right leg including knee, calf, hip, and Achilles injuries. The Celtics traded away center Kendrick Perkins in February partially due to the expectation that O’Neal would return to fill Perkins’ role. O’Neal returned April 3 after missing 27 games due to his Achilles, but he played only five minutes due to a strained right calf. It was the last regular season game he would play that year. O’Neal missed the first round of the 2011 playoffs, and he was limited to 12 minutes in two games in the second round against the Heat, who eliminated the Celtics from the playoffs. In 37 games, he averaged 9.2 points, 4.8 rebounds, 0.7 assists and 1.1 blocks – all career lows.


Even though, Shaq’s career ended on not a high note, it should not overshadow everything Shaq accomplished.

He is the most dominant big man ever. We might never see another one like him.

Watch Shaq’s career highlights below:

Sources: [Wikipedia,]

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