For the past 19 years, Superman, Shaq Diesel, the Shaqtus â€“ whatever you want to call him â€“ has graced the NBA with his presence. From basketball player to rapper, actor and even sheriff, Shaquille O’Neal has left an indelible impression on our culture. As one of the most dominant forces to ever play the game, O’Neal ravaged the NBA for most of his career, leaving behind a path of shattered backboards and frightful defenders. So as O’Neal rides off into the sunset, perhaps in his stretched-out Lamborghini, it leaves us with one question: Who will ascend to his throne?
Is there anyone who can be as dominant on the court, as well as sociable and well liked off of it? Over the years we’ve seen some poor attempts at trying to find that guy. Glen Davis earned the nickname “Baby Shaq” while playing at LSU, but I think it’s safe to say his game falls a little short. The same goes for Eddy Curry, who 10 years ago was a 6-11, 300-pound high school phenom, but currently finds himself out of shape and without a team. So as the search for a new Shaquille O’Neal continues, we leave you with this short list of possible candidates.
One year ago you would have taken a look at this comparison and laughed. However, Amar’e Stoudemire has embraced being a part of New York City to the fullest extent. Bringing his tenacity and fiery passion for the game, Amar’e has the whole world looking his way â€“ especially after hooking up with Carmelo Anthony late last season.
Although not the true center that Shaq was, Stoudemire plays about as strong as a power forward can, constantly imposing his fury on weaker opponents. He has also changed his lifestyle off the court as well. As quiet as a church mouse out in Phoenix, Amar’e is already reaping the benefits of landing himself in the media capital of the world. He is now all over Twitter and has even had a cameo on HBO’s Entourage last week. If he can keep networking himself through the media and rack up a couple of championships with his buddy ‘Melo, he might be well on his way to being the heir apparent of Shaquille O’Neal.
Despite putting his talents on hold for the first year of his career due to injury, Blake Griffin burst onto the scene this past season with one of the most storied rookie campaigns in recent memory. Dunk after dunk (after dunk, after dunk, after dunk) appeared on highlight reels around the globe as “The Blake Show” became a revolution.
With averages of 22.5 points,12.1 rebounds and 3.8 assists per game, BG exhibited all of his talents during his Rookie of the Year campaign. Though he might be too humble to be considered the next Shaq, maybe that is all just part of being a rookie. Blake has plenty of years left to make the media laugh and engage in wild off-court antics. Certainly his game is there.
Dwight Howard may very well be the most obvious choice for the next Shaquille O’Neal. Both were No. 1 overall picks for the Orlando Magic, and rumors are constantly swirling that Dwight may leave the Magic for the Lake Show. However, even if Dwight doesn’t bolt, they can be compared in many ways.
Before last season, the majority of Dwight Howard’s points came via a dunk. No, Dwight doesn’t bring down baskets with thunderous jams, but he is much more athletic to make up for it. His post game has also improved, thanks to the help of all-time greats Patrick Ewing and Hakeem Olajuwon, to the point where it is eerily similar to Shaq’s.
The personality is there too. Dwight can always be found smiling in front of a camera whether it is on the court or an appearance off of it â€“ just check out his hilarious impersonations of Stan Van Gundy for reference. Like the rest of these candidates, Dwight lacks the championship rings to get him on Shaq’s level, but at 26 years old and already one NBA Finals appearance deep, the potential is definitely there.
Who will ascend to Shaq’s throne?
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