Legends Never Die: Will Shaquille O’Neal Be Appreciated When He’s Gone?

As the LeBron James Sweepstakes begins and the media jumps all over his every move (understandably so), there is something that basketball fans are clearly overlooking.

There is a very strong possibility that we have seen the last of the "true" center in basketball. His name is Shaquille O'Neal.

There was no farewell tour on his behalf, and his work on and off the court at this point in his career will not be recognized because of the rock star that is 13 years his junior.

As the league evolves, the center is losing its true value.

The big man is becoming perimeter-oriented, which has match-up advantages, but takes away from the intimidation factor of the greats such as Russell, Chamberlain, Olajuwon, and Abdul-Jabbar.

Thus, we lose appreciation for the models of consistency that have been presented to us.

Are we forgetting the fear that teams had when they faced the "Diesel"?

In his prime, Shaq forced teams to impose a strategy of fouling him before he touched half-court. Opponents knew free throws were his weakness, so this strategy was devised to hinder his offensive impact.

However vulnerable Shaquille O’Neal was at the line, Hack-a-Shaq did not faze him.

One MVP award, 15 All-Star games, two All-Star game MVPs, and two scoring titles later, we can actually say O’Neal was in the top three in the category of "hardest players to guard". Each year, he is consistently a league leader in field goal percentage, as well as free throws attempted.

That type of mileage can take a toll on someone of O’Neal’s stature, and we are seeing the consequences now.

O'Neal is currently trying to hold on to what diminished skills he has left, but with the impact—or lack thereof—that he showed with the Cavaliers this season, both good and bad teams are likely to shy away from "The Diesel."
Article Source: Bleacher Report - Los Angeles Lakers