Los Angeles Lakers: Magic Johnson and the 40 greatest L.A. sports athletes

Los Angeles Lakers (Photo by Kirby Lee/Getty Images)
Los Angeles Lakers (Photo by Kirby Lee/Getty Images) /
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Los Angeles Lakers
(Photo by Gary Miller/Getty Images) /

Number 9: Shaquille O’Neal

The most dominant force in the NBA, Shaquille O’Neal was the biggest free-agent signing for the Los Angeles Lakers in franchise history. In eight seasons with the Lakers, O’Neal played in seven All-Star Games, was named All-NBA First Team six times, and led the league in field goal percentage six times.

O’Neal’s best season came in 2000 when he led the NBA in scoring (29.7 ppg) placed second in rebounds (13.6) while blocking three shots per game. On his birthday in January, O’Neal set a career-high when he scored 61 points in a game against the Los Angeles Clippers. O’Neal went on to win his first and only regular season MVP for his efforts.

Starting in 2000 O’Neal would help the lead the Lakers to a three-peat of NBA championships with O’Neal winning the NBA Finals MVP every year. In the three finals series O’Neal averaged 35.9 ppg and 15.2 rpg dominating his way to a title year after year.

O’Neal could be criticized for taking too much time to get into playing shape while playing with the Lakers leading to a feud with his superstar teammate Kobe Bryant. When O’Neal’s acrimonious salary demands were not met a trade was made and O’Neal was gone. Despite the way his Lakers tenure ended he remained extremely popular with the fans and his jersey hangs in the rafters of Staples Center, while a statue sits outside as well.