Shaquille O’Neal: Does Shaq Deserve a Staples Center Statue Before Kareem?

Comparing eras is always problematic.

And I'm not suggesting that Shaquille O'Neal was better or worse than Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. But when push comes to shove, I think Kazaam deserves one more than the co-pilot in Airplane!

Kareem was an unbelievable player. He remains the league's all-time leading scorer, he won six titles (two more than Shaq), won six league MVPs (five more than Shaq), and was in Los Angeles far longer than O'Neal: 15 seasons for Abdul-Jabbar, only eight for Shaq.

Furthermore, Kareem finished his career in Los Angeles, while O'Neal became something of a basketball nomad during his last few years going from LA to Miami to Phoenix to Cleveland to Boston. 

But some men don't have to spend a decade and a half in the same uniform to be truly iconic. Shaq was one of those players.

It's certainly comparing apples to oranges, but for now, let's dismiss the debate that starts with

PERSON 1: "Shaq had Kobe!"

PERSON 2: "Yea, well Kareem had Magic!"

Both big men had an all-time great guard in their backcourt so lets call that a wash.

Instead, look at the performance in the finals.

Not only did Kareem's Lakers lose the finals four times—only once for Shaq's Lakers—but the Big Aristotle was the MVP of each of the Lakers three titles during their three-peat. I'm not saying that Kareem didn't step up in the big moments—he certainly did and he was the MVP of the 1985 Finals. But Shaq had a handful of monster games during the run to the title, be it in the Conference Finals or the NBA Finals.

But it's not just about hardware, it's also about the indelible mark they made on the franchise and the sport itself. When you think about those Showtime Lakers, do you think of Kareem's skyhook and goggles or Magic's ear-to-ear smile and crazy passes? I think of Magic first and foremost.

And when I think of that Lakers squad...

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