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Today in Performance Sneaker History: Shaquille O’Neal is 41

Happy Birthday, Shaq Diesel! The sure-fire NBA Hall of Famer turns 41 years old today, so Sneaker Report celebrates by taking a look back at some of his career defining moments. O’Neal is a four-time NBA Championship winner who spent a prolific nineteen years in the league. He played for six different teams throughout 1992-2011, but his most memorable days came during the first decade of his career, as a member of the Orlando Magic and Los Angeles Lakers, respectively.

Shaq spent only the first four years of his NBA tenure in Orlando, but these formative years helped to shape the dominant player he would become. Not only did he take home the 1993 Rookie of the Year award, but he was also the first rookie since Michael Jordan selected as a starter for the NBA All-Star Game. During his second year in the league, he averaged 29.4 points per game, which was good for second best overall, trailing just behind David Robinson. However, O’Neal lead the league in field goal percentage, making 60% of his shots. By his third season, he led the NBA in scoring with 29.3 points per game, but came in second to David Robinson during MVP voting.

When the ’95-96 NBA season ended, Shaq became a free agent after just four years with the Magic. O’Neal would end up heading west, joining the Los Angeles Lakers for the ’96-97 season. The same year, LA drafted a high school player by the name of Kobe Bryant. Although much was made about the personal tandem between O’Neal and Bryant, one thing was for sure: they knew how to win together. Shaq and Kobe would go on to pick up NBA Championship rings in 2000, 2001, and 2002.

Later in his career, Shaq would pick up his final Championship ring as a member of the Miami Heat, led by Dwayne Wade. O’Neal would finally retire in 2011, and is now entertaining fans as an analyst on Inside the NBA. In his heyday, Shaq was known for having some of the most rugged big-man sneakers on the court. He was a proud endorser of Reebok during the early days, and later launched his own budget-priced footwear line. And now in 2013, things have come full circle, with Shaq once again partnering with Reebok for an official re-launch of his two most famous signature models: the Shaq Attaq and the Shaqnosis (pictured). The Reebok Shaq Attaq has been slated for an April release, while the Shaqnosis has a tentative fall drop date. Stay tuned with Sneaker Report for more on these classic styles!

As Sneaker Report wishes Shaq a happy forty-first birthday, we’ll leave you with this fitting quote from Diesel himself, just after inking his $121 million contract with the Lakers: “I’m tired of hearing about money, money, money, money, money. I just want to play the game, drink Pepsi, wear Reebok.”

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