If you're an NBA fan, then you already know that Shaquille O'Neal may be the most dominant player the game has ever seen. Not only was Shaq big and strong, but he was quick and had that perfect finesse around the hoop.
Shaq is a four-time NBA champion, winning three titles in a row with the Los Angeles Lakers and then adding one more with the Miami Heat. On top of winning these titles, Shaq also won three Finals MVPs with the Lakers.
Before Shaq was winning titles with the Lakers and the Heat, he was a young and upcoming star with the Orlando Magic. This is where Shaq changed the game... Literally.
The NBA 'Shaq-Proofs' Their Hoops
When Shaquille O'Neal entered the league in the 1992-93 season, fans witnessed a player like no other. The power and dominance were on full display right away, as Shaq averaged 23.4 points and 13.9 rebounds as a rookie. Shaq, of course, would win the Rookie of the Year Award.
On top of dominating opposing centers, Shaq also dominated the basketball goal. In the past, fans have witnessed a few players break the backboard on dunks, like Darryl 'Chocolate Thunder' Dawkins.
So, yes, players have broken backboards, Shaq included. But Shaq also did something no other player had done before and since. Shaq tore down the entire basketball goal.
What Shaq was doing certainly was impressive, but it also became a problem for the league. Of course, the league couldn't keep having Shaq break their equipment.
So this led to the league changing the type of basketball goals they used.
“We had a new thing this year with (backboards) both coming down and being broken,” Rod Thorn, who was the chairman of the competition committee at the time, said in an interview. “We’re going to make sure that all of the equipment is up to snuff. Whether it was Shaquille O’Neal or someone else, with the size of these guys, it was just a matter of time. He just happened to be a little bigger and stronger than most.”
The NBA first made changes to the materials of the backboards, making them more durable. They also changed a rule requiring backup basketball goals at every game, just in case Shaq or any other player would tear another basketball goal down.
This shows the sheer power Shaquille O'Neal possessed in his younger years. Shaq's power was also famously displayed on the show NBA Inside Stuff, where Shaq played a friendly game against the show's host, Ahmad Rashad.
Shaq and Rashad played one-on-one on the show, and Shaq ripped the rim off the goal as the backboard shattered. Clearly, this hoop wasn't “Shaq-proofed”.
Shaq would go on to change more rules in the NBA from his pure dominance. Teams used the “Hack-a-Shaq” strategy to slow Shaq down by sending him to the free-throw line.
The NBA changed the rule saying teams can't foul players off the ball on purpose under two minutes of the game. If teams foul a player off the ball in under two minutes, it results in the opposing team receiving two free throws and the ball.
Shaq's dominance in the paint also led the NBA to allow zone defenses to try to stop Shaq. Even with these changes, Shaq was still able to win his four titles, proving he was more dominant than any rule change.
The game isn't the same today as it was when Shaq played. Big men often stand out behind the three-point line and shoot the trey. No one truly dominates the paint while punishing their opponents.
This is sad for some NBA fans, especially older fans, who like the more physical style of basketball. Since this style is gone, fans of that era can relive all the times Shaq punished the basketball goal in the video below. Enjoy.
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