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Shaquille O'Neal

Nba Bound

College, for O'Neal, became confining. Always quick to unleash the uninhibited side of his nature, he was evicted from the dormitory at LSU for rowdy behavior shortly before the beginning of his junior year. He took a reprimand on another occasion for possessing an illegally funded cell phone, which (as it turned out) was a phony—a toy he carried to impress co-eds. In April, 1992, rather than re-enroll for his senior year, O'Neal announced his availability for the NBA draft.

On June 24, the day of the draft, he was picked first in the first round. Drafted by the Orlando Magic, he signed with that team for $41 million for seven years. His was the largest rookie contract in the history of professional basketball.

Athletes and Music

Some of the tightest bonds are between jocks and hip-hoppers, who have taken up the rock-and-roll mantle of fame-flaunting, drug-touting behavior. The rap game has seduced many professional athletes, the most prominent of whom, Lakers center Shaquille O'Neal, released his fifth CD last September. "When you watch MTV, you can tell all the musicians want to be athletes, and when you watch ESPN, you can tell all the athletes want to rap," O'Neal says. "Remember, a lot of us came from the same place…."

Some rappers believe O'Neal is fronting, that he owes his success (including that of his platinum debut CD, Shaq Diesel) to slick production and marketing. In 1995 rapper Coolio told Vibe magazine that O'Neal should "stay on the court; he can't rap." It's a decent bet, however, that none of those critics has expressed that sentiment in person to the 7'1", 315-pound dunkmeister. O'Neal, who entitled his latest CD Respect because he wants to be accepted as a legitimate rapper, says, "I'm just the first person to conquer both worlds. I'm not stupid; I know not to pick [bad] beats."

Source: Silver, Michael, Sports Illustrated, May 24, 1999.

Awards and Accomplishments

Named by the NBA as one of the league's 50 greatest players of all time.
1990 Sets a collegiate conference record of 115 blocked shots
1990-91 Named national Player of the Year in media polls
1991 Wins the Adolph Rupp Trophy and the John Wooden Award as college basketball player of the year
1992 Picked first in the first round overall of the National Basketball Association draft
1993 Named National Basketball Association Rookie of the Year; named to National Basketball Association All-Rookie First Team
1993-98 Named to National Basketball Association All-Star
1996 Won a gold medal with the US Olympic Basketball Team; selected as one of the 50 Greatest Players in National Basketball Association history; included as one of only four athletes among the 100 most powerful people in sports, Sporting News (December 30, 1996)
1999 Named Most Valuable Player for the league
2000 Named most valuable player for the league; named most valuable player for the finals; named most valuable player for the All-Star game; jersey Number 33 retired by Louisiana State University athletic department
2001 Named most valuable player for the league finals
2002 Named most valuable player for the league finals

O'Neal was named player of the week after his first week as a rookie. It was a first-time occurrence in the NBA, and he was named as a starter in the All-Star game—another rare feat for a rookie. His rebounds, blocks, and starts ranked as team highs for the season, and averaged 23.4 points per game. That year the Magic more than doubled its win record from the previous year. The team went to a 41-41 record, which was 20 wins more than the previous season.

With 50 wins for the 1993-4 season, the Magic went to the playoffs for the first time in franchise history. O'Neal already had dunked 709 times in his first two years as a pro. As he made strides in his professional career, he continued taking college courses through an independent studies programs at LSU during the off-seasons. On December 15, 2000, he graduated with a general studies degree and a minor in political science. When O'Neal flew to Baton Rouge for the commencement he was honored by the school with a ceremony to retire his LSU jersey, Number 33.

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Famous Sports StarsBasketballShaquille O'Neal Biography - Can't Stop Growing, Chronology, Nba Bound, Athletes And Music, Awards And Accomplishments - CONTACT INFORMATION, SELECTED WRITINGS BY O'NEAL: