Real name: Shaquille Rashaun O'Neal
Birthdate: March 6, 1972
Partner: Shaunie Nelson
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Shaquille Rashaun O'Neal (pronounced "shak-KEEL") (born March 6, 1972 in Newark, New Jersey), frequently referred to simply as Shaq, is an American professional basketball player, generally regarded as one of the most dominant in the National Basketball Association (NBA). He starts at center for the Miami Heat, after previous stints with the Los Angeles Lakers and the Orlando Magic. O'Neal has been on four NBA Championship teams, most recently in 2006, with the Miami Heat. Listed at 7 ft 1 in (2.16 m), 325 lb (148 kg) and U.S. shoe size 23, he is famous for his physical stature. He has several nicknames, such as "The Diesel", "The Big Aristotle", "The Big Daddy", "Wilt Chamberneezy" (given to him by Kobe Bryant), "The Big Baryshnikov", "The Real Deal", "The 8th Wonder", "M.D.E (Most Dominant Ever)", "L.C.L." (Last Center Left), "Superman", and most recently after earning his MBA, "Doctor Shaq". O'Neal was ranked #9 on SLAM Magazine Top 75 NBA Players of all time in 2003.
That summer, O'Neal was named to the United States Olympic basketball team, and was part of the gold medal-winning team at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta.
After the 1995-96 season, O'Neal left the Orlando Magic to join the Los Angeles Lakers, enticed by the allure of a seven-year, $122 million contract.
In the second game of the 2005-06 season, O'Neal injured his right ankle and subsequently missed the following 18 games. Many critics stated that Heat coach Pat Riley correctly managed O'Neal during the rest of the season, limiting his minutes to a career low. Riley felt doing so would allow O'Neal to be healthier and fresher come playoff time. Although O'Neal averaged career (or near-career) lows in points, rebounds, and blocks, he said in an interview "Stats don't matter. I care about winning, not stats. If I score 0 points and we win I'm happy. If I score 50, 60 points, break the records, and we lose, I'm pissed off. 'Cause I knew I did something wrong. I'll have a hell of a season if I win the championship and average 20 points a game." During the 2005-06 season, the Heat recorded only a .500 record without O'Neal in the line-up.
In the 2006-07 season O'Neal missed over thirty games with a right knee injury. The Miami Heat struggled during his absence but with his return won seven of their next eight games. Bad luck still haunted the squad however, as fellow superstar Dwyane Wade dislocated his left shoulder, leaving O'Neal as the focus of the team. Critics were doubting if O'Neal, now in his mid thirties, was able to put the team on his shoulders and if he could carry them into the playoffs. The Heat went on a much needed winning streak to keep them in the race for a playoff spot, which the Heat finally secured against the Cleveland Cavaliers on April 5.
At approximately 4 AM on January 28, 2007, O'Neal was helping a Miami Heat security official unload his luggage after returning from an away game when a driver identified later by the Miami Herald as 18 year old Emmnueo Cibrin struck O'Neal's Cadillac Escalade. As Cibrin attempted to flee the scene, O'Neal contacted the police and followed Cibrin to a gas station where the police arrived to deal with the matter. Afterward O'Neal claimed he adhered to standard police procedure, specifically "pursuing at a safe distance and speed."