Shaq managed to balance basketball with self-promotion
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It was no surprise that Shaquille O'Neal elected to use the power of Twitter to announce his retirement. Remember, Shaq coined the record and clothing label "TWIsM" - short for "The World is Mine." With more than 3.8 million followers on Twitter, Shaq may fall a few billion people short of owning the world, but his reach is worldwide.
Shaq's charisma, exuberance, physical presence, infectious personality, achievements and adaptation to all environments create a challenge when trying to summarize the man's 19 seasons in the NBA. To say he was larger than life may sound cliche, but on many levels it's completely true.
"From day one, I knew he was a NBA Hall of Famer," former LSU teammate Maurice Williamson said after seeing Shaq at an open gym. "I was in awe of his grace and power as a big man."
As one-dimensional as this 7-foot-1, 300-plus pound man was on the court, his ability as a self-promoter off it proved this big kid possessed versatility.
Shaq's self-marketing campaigns managed to come across as confident with a dash of self-amusement more than cocky and better than thou (maybe with the exception of the Kobe Bryant rap song). The man produced more aliases than Jason Bourne: The Diesel, Shaq Daddy, Shaq Fu, The Big Shaqtus, The Big Shamrock and Superman, just to name a few.
"He hasn't changed one bit," Williamson said. "He's the same goofy character. He was always there to cheer you up."
From Hollywood to hip-hop, Shaq dipped his toe, one branch of his size-23 shoe, into a little bit of everything during his career. Although "Kazaam" failed at the box office, you might be interested to know that Shaq lists "The Fish That Saved Pittsburgh" as one of his favorite movies. Nothing screams Oscar snub like a cast that includes Julius Erving, Jonathan Winters and Stockard Channing.
The awards, accolades and titles Shaq has earned over the past 19 seasons have sparked the question of where he ranks all-time among NBA big men and what his legacy will be.
Using Whatifsports.com's NBA simulation engine, I took Shaq's four NBA title teams and played them head-to-head to learn where they rank.
Shaq's NBA Title Teams Head-to-Head
|2005-06 Miami Heat||56.7||104.4|
|2001-02 Los Angeles Lakers||52.0||104.4|
|1999-00 Los Angeles Lakers||46.7||102.1|
|2000-01 Los Angeles Lakers||44.6||103.8|
It should be noted that in most power ranking simulations, there is one team that rises to the top. To have four teams produce winning percentages so close, ranging from 44.6 to 56.7 percent, is very rare. As it turns out, Shaq's decision to take his talents to South Beach proved beneficial. Heat fans got their first franchise title with Shaq.
During the 2005-06 season, Shaq averaged 20 points and 9.2 rebounds in 30.6 minutes per game. That postseason, the big guy pushed himself to 33 minutes a game and chipped in 18.4 points and 9.8 rebounds per game with Dwyane Wade at his side.
To take the Shaq-ulation one step further and using the same NBA simulation engine, I wanted to see which Heat squad would win: Shaq's 2006 NBA champions or this season's Miami roster with LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Wade.
2010-11 Heat vs. Shaq's 2005-06 Heat
|Matchup||Win%||Avg Score||WIS Interactive|
|2010-11 Miami Heat||48.8||102.2||Sample Boxscore|
|2005-06 Miami Heat||51.2||103.2||Simulate Matchup|
I simulated the 2005-06 Heat vs. the 2010-11 Heat 1,001 times, and Shaq's squad won 51.2 percent of the time by an average margin of victory of one point.
If you click on our simulation sample box score, be sure to scan the play by play as the game ended in dramatic fashion. Shaq scored 21 points (8-of-15 shooting) and ripped down 13 rebounds (eight offensive).
"Watching the NBA won't be the same without him in the game," Williamson said. "I didn't think (his retirement) would come so soon."
Retired from basketball? Yes. Retired from reaching millions? Search Shaq's new TWIsM: Twitter Is Mine.
Ryan Fowler is the Content Manager for Whatifsports.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.