Very few Centers in the National Basketball Association (NBA) have ever dominated in the way that Shaquille (Shaq) O’Neal did during a career that spanned 19 years. During his time on the court, Shaq was an All Star 15 times and was on four NBA Championship teams, three of which were during his eight years playing with the Los Angeles Lakers.
Two years ago the Lakers retired Shaq’s #34 jersey in honor of his achievements with the team. While this was an expected action by the Purple & Gold organization, it is generally not done until a player has been selected into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. Shaq was, last month, nominated to be inducted.
Recently, the NBA big-man, who can be quite the practical joker, received a fantastic surprise. In Shaq parlance, he got Shaq’d. During an appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live, the host orchestrated the event perfectly, a can be seen below, where the big man is told he is getting a statue outside of the Lakers’ Staples Center arena.
It was great to see Shaq so surprised. It is a well-deserved acknowledgment, done in an absolutely wonderful manner.
On Sunday, November 29, Kobe Bryant formally announced his retirement, to take place at the end of the 2015-2016 season. This was done via a written poem simply titled “Dear Basketball,” published on The Players’ Tribune website.
As the Los Angeles Lakers were playing that evening, all attendees received a letter from their star titled, “When we first met, I was just a kid.”
Regardless of anyone’s personal love or hate opinion, future NBA Hall of Famer Kobe Bryant is a bonafide legend. Many of today’s younger players have looked up to him, as he had looked up to Michael Jordan.
Reaction to his announcement was as it should be. Following are but a few from the hoops world, which are pretty typical of those found around the web:
“It’s time for u to take it all in… sit back, relax & enjoy all that u have built. Love u lil bro @kobebryant” — Shaquille O’Neal (@Shaq)
“We have lived incredible moments together on and off the court. Thanks for everything brother! @kobebryant #ThankYouKobe” — Pau Gasol (@paugasol)
“Hard to believe @kobebryant is finally going to hang it up. One of the NBA’s great champions. Enjoy the rest of this season my friend.” — Scottie Pippen (@ScottiePippen)
“Cherished every second out there with you @kobebryant !” — Paul George (@Yg_Trece)
“You loved the game @kobebryant and the game loved you back! Proud to know you and honored to have represented the #PurpleandGold together!” — Rick Fox (@RickFox)
Following three injury-plagued years, The Black Mamba’s numbers this season are definitely off from his 25+ point career average. But, there is no denying that there are very few players who have amassed the scope of accomplishments he has been able to achieve over his years with the Lakers. Following are a few of the more significant highlights of his storied career:
* 20 years with the same team (NBA record)
* 17-time All Star (16 as a starter)
* All Star MVP Award four times
* Five-time NBA Champion
* NBA Finals MVP twice
* 3rd on the all-time NBA regular season and post-season scoring lists
* NBA scoring leader twice
* Two-time Olympic Gold Medal Winner
And, in 2006, Bryant set the second highest single-game scoring record by a player with 81 points vs the Toronto Raptors. Wilt Chamberlain of the Philadelphia Warriors still holds on to the #1 spot with 100 points in a 1962 game against the New York Knicks.
Enjoy you farewell tour, Kobe, as we have enjoyed your play and absolute dedication to the sport.
In a hard-fought six-game series, the Golden State Warriors took down the Cleveland Cavaliers.
For the 1st time ever the 1st two games of the NBA Finals went into overtime.
For the 1st time since the very first Finals in 1947, as the Basketball Association of America, a rookie NBA head coach wins it all (though that was going to be the case no matter which team won).
For the 1st time since 1975 the Warriors can call themselves the NBA Champions.
For the 1st time since 1991 a team won the Finals without any players ever having played in a Finals game.
For the 1st time since 1999 one of the two Finals teams was not named the Spurs, Lakers or Heat nor had players named Tim Duncan, Kobe Bryant or Dwyane Wade.
For the 1st time since 2000 a player, Steph Curry, won his 1st NBA MVP and his 1st NBA Finals in the same year.
Curry is the 1st player to ever face and defeat all four members of the All-NBA First team, one in each of the match-ups through the Finals (Anthony Davis, Marc Gasol, James Harden, LeBron James).
Andre Iguodala became the 1st NBA Finals MVP who did not start every game in the series, being inserted as a starter at Game Four. He averaged 16.3 points, 4 assists, 5.8 rebounds and held James to 38% shooting when guarding him.
Some of the games were not the greatest to watch at times but there was spectacle to be had, such as the Cavs being able to initially contain the league MVP Steph Curry or watching LeBron James’ monster output (where he led both teams in total points, rebounds and assists averaging 35.8 points, 13.3 rebounds, 8.8 assists).
There were nights of individual great performances from many players, too many to list. Suffice it to say after Game 3 it looked to be anybody’s series. However, in the end, the talent and depth of the Dubs was just too much for the Cavs to overcome, especially with their role players, trying to fill in for injured Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving, running sometimes hot but mostly cold throughout the six games.
Game 1 Cavaliers 100 Warriors108 (OT)
Game 2 Cavaliers95 Warriors 93 (OT)
Game 3 Warriors 91 Cavaliers96
Game 4 Warriors103 Cavaliers 82
Game 5 Cavaliers 91 Warriors104
Game 6 Warriors105 Cavaliers 97
A very well fought series and well deserved championship for the Warriors. Congratulations!
Kobe Bryant, of the Los Angeles Lakers, added another statistic to his already impressive resume, which includes 5-time NBA Champion, 2-time NBA Finals MVP, 14-time NBA All Star, 4-time NBA All Star MVP, 2-time NBA Scoring Champion, etc.
This week the Black Mamba moved to the number 5 spot as the All-time NBA Leading Scorer, passing former teammate Shaquille O’Neal, with a total of 28,601 points, averaging 25.36 per game.
The closest active player behind him is #19 Kevin Garnett with 23,659.
And those who are still ahead of him? Those would be the All Stars in the 30,000 Club:
1) Kareem Abdul-Jabbar 38,387 – 24.61 per game 2) Karl Malone 36,928 – 25.02 3) Michael Jordan 32,292 – 30.12 4) Wilt Chamberlain 31,419 – 30.07
Based on his career average, it will take Kobe 111 games to catch Wilt.
If he is able to keep that per game average going, and he is currently performing above that level in this shortened 66-game year, Kobe will move to number 4 in the latter part of the 2012-13 season, not counting any games during the play-offs.
And then sometime in first 23 games of the following season, again not counting post-season, he would pass Michael Jordan.
All of which means that with a substantial number of post-season appearances, Kobe would surpass both Wilt and MJ next season.
The path to achieve #2 and passing Karl Malone seems a bit more daunting as the 4,636 point spread between #2 and #3 would take him into the 2016-2017 season (not counting any post-season games). Not impossible, but certainly a long ways off.
Congratulations to Kobe on his latest achievement.