1. Shaquille O’Neal
It is highly likely O’Neal was the first player you thought of when we started this journey, and he absolutely deserves to bring a close to this wildly entertaining journey. After dominating for the Magic (again with the Magic…) and Lakers, he had slowed down some by the time he won his fourth ring with the Miami Heat.
Yet despite being 35-years-old when he arrived and with questions around his weight never too far away, O’Neal was actually an All-Star in the second of his two seasons there. Did it help that the midseason exhibition was taking place in Phoenix that year? It certainly did O’Neal’s case no harm.
But to his credit, he was named the co-MVP of the game alongside the late Kobe Bryant (again, bigger storylines perhaps at play there), and he did put up 17.8 points and 8.4 rebounds, while posting a league leading field goal percentage of 60.9 percent. It wasn’t prime Shaq throughout these 103 games for the organization, all starts, but it did have a certain charm to it.
The ageing O’Neal was exposed in the playoffs though, when Tim Duncan and the Spurs easily disposed of the big man and his teammates in five games. Still, thinking of O’Neal, Stoudemire and Steve Nash together is fun, even if the version of “Shaqtus” the Suns got was nowhere near the player he had once been.