When talking about the greatest NBA big man of All-Time, there may be nobody on earth more qualified for that title than Shaquille O'Neal. During his 20-year tenure in the NBA, he dominated the league in a way nobody had ever seen before -- or seen since.
He was the last of a dying breed of truly dominant big men. In fact, he's the last center to win the MVP, scoring title, Finals MVP, and All-Star Game MVP.
His first, and only, MVP came in the 1999-2000 season when he averaged 29.7 points, 13.6 rebounds, and 3 blocks per game on 57% shooting. That was the last time a center won the award, with every other one since (besides Tim Duncan, who played both power forward and center) either being won by another position.
2000 was also the year he won his second scoring title and, by that time, he was already beginning to enter the discussion for best big man ever. No other big has earned that honor since.
But, perhaps most impressively, he is also the last center to win a Finals MVP (again, besides Duncan). He won three-straight between 2000 and 2002, putting him among a short list of players with multiple Finals MVPs.
So what does all of this mean? Not only is it a sign of how great Shaq was, but it's also a sign of the times. With the modern game emphasizing perimeter shot-making, old-school, traditional style big men like O'Neal are becoming almost obsolete.
In fact, for perspective, consider this: from 1969-2005, a total of 15 big men won Finals MVP. That's 41% of total winners. In the 15 years since, not a single big has won it. The past eight seasons, only small forwards have won the award.
It's a new day and age for basketball, and instead of players utilizing the paint, they are stretching out to the three-point line and beyond. Guys like Shaq, Hakeem, and Wilt? We might never see that again.