Seeing Shaquille O’Neal’s name this far down a list of basketball players of any kind seems wrong, somehow. He is a consensus top-10 player in NBA history, with four titles and an MVP award to his name. Yet, he spent fewer years in Phoenix than he has nicknames, making his impact for the Suns rather slight.
After O’Neal teamed up with Dwyane Wade to win a title in 2006 with the Miami Heat, the team slowly fell off. By 2008, Miami was the worst squad in the league. That February, the Heat traded O’Neal to the Suns in exchange for Shawn Marion and Marcus Banks.
Despite being 36 years old, he averaged a double-double for the Suns, The 2007-08 Suns made the Western Conference Playoffs, but lost in five games to the San Antonio Spurs.
O’Neal averaged 18 points per game through the first half of 2008-09, making what would be his final NBA All-Star Game. He made theAll-NBA Third Team, but the Suns were unable to make the postseason in a loaded Western Conference.
They finished with 46 wins — two shy of the eighth-place Utah Jazz. Those 46 wins would have been good enough for fifth place in the Eastern Conference.
In total, O’Neal logged 103 games for the Suns. He brought his typical efficient scoring and rebounding, but unable to reach the heights of his prime. After the 2008-09 season, he was traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers.
While O’Neal is often remembered as a member of the Los Angeles Lakers, his time spent with the Orlando Magic, the Heat and the Suns represent strong periods of play for “The Big Aristotle”.