This week, ex-Heat center Shaquille O'Neal was one of the ten inductees into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. That should come as a surprise to no one. "The Big Aristotle" was a four-time NBA champion, league MVP, and three-time Finals MVP.
What has been a surprise to most Heat fans this season is how the franchise has warmed up to the man who helped bring Miami its first NBA championship in 2006. Shaq didn't exactly break up with the Heat on the best of terms when he was traded to the Phoenix Suns in 2008. But it seems time has healed all wounds. The Heat announced earlier this season that Shaquille's number 32 jersey would head to the American Airlines Arena rafters, never to be worn by a Miami player again.
So now is an appropriate time to look back at some of Shaq's most memorable moments in that jersey.
10. Miami acquires Shaquille O'Neal; chaos ensues.
All hell broke loose when word got out that the Heat had acquired O'Neal from the Lakers. The Heat had a celebration party, only this time instead of fireworks and dancers, they rolled out Shaq riding an 18-wheeler and spraying fans with a supersoaker while guaranteeing the franchise's first championship. "It's lit" wasn't a saying in 2006, but if it were, people would have been saying it everywhere. Outside of the drafting of Dwyane Wade, this could very well be the most important moment in Miami Heat history.
9. Shaq visits Los Angeles Christmas Day 2004.
At the time, this was peak Heat fandom. There had been big moments during the Alonzo Mourning/Tim Hardaway era, but nothing had felt quite on this level. Kobe and Shaq obviously had a score to settle. The Heat would eventually win this one 104-102 in overtime. Kobe finished with 42
8. Shaq almost breaks everything.
In what was otherwise a nondescript Heat-Cavs regular-season matchup in 2007, Shaq almost ended a basketball game in the second quarter. By this time, the NBA had already made baskets nearly unbreakable, mainly because of men like Shaq hanging off the rims, but it almost didn't matter this night. Cavs fans can be heard holding onto their butts in horror. "Ohhhhh," they say as they take one step to the exits.
7. Shaq tells Craig Sager his jacket is "
People love to have fun with Craig Sager, and Shaq was certainly no exception when he told the sideline reporter that his bright-ass jacket was ugly as hell. Some of the
6. Shaq puts an exclamation point on the slowest fast break of all time.
It might have taken him a second to get there, but when he did, he did the business on the Chicago Bulls. If you listen closely, you can hear the rim begging for its life. What makes this play is the way Shaq struts back to the other side of the court. Look closely, and you can see a young Luol Deng try to get license plate of Shaq as he blows past him.
5. Shaq isn't even trying anymore.
After watching this play a few times, it's pretty obvious why players fouled Shaq so hard. As if nothing is happening around him, Shaq — with an opponent literally hugging him — just flips the ball with the perfect amount of English no-look off the backboard. It went in, and he got fouled. His prize for it all? A free throw and a head butt from Antoine Walker, which he also brushes off like it's nothing.
4. Shaq gives Mutumbo the finger.
Shaq straight-up treated Dikembe Mutumbo like a child on this play. Mutumbo was like a fly on an elephant's ass, making zero impact on the elephant beyond a mere annoyance, if anything. With the Heat losing late and frustrations boiling over, Shaq tried to end Mutumbo forever, missed, then regained the basketball and finished the job. He then proceeded to give Mutumbo his own finger-wag celebration, which the officials did not appreciate very much.
3. Shaq takes matters into his own hands in the 2006 playoffs.
This was some Matrix crap. Shaq came out to nearly the three-point line, blocked the shot, picked up the ball, and ignored all teammates on his way to a silky-smooth lay-in finish. The man stands at more than seven feet tall, and he completed a sequence that would make Steph Curry proud. Once again, the strut back up court adds some spice to this dish.
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2. Shaq hypes up the crowd at the 2006 championship parade.
You know shit is real when Pat Riley is left with no option other than to
1. Dwyane Wade and Shaq did sex to your basketball face.
This play is peak Wade-Shaq era. Ironically, while facing LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers, Wade and O'Neal did something so dirty, so unnecessary, so definitely worth more than two points, that the game had to be stopped so that everyone could stop Shaq from running into the crowd and humping people.