Lakers Moments: Shaquille O'Neal, a.k.a. Superman
Mr. Big: In 2003, Lakers center Shaquille O'Neal reportedly weighed 358 pounds and carried about 20% body fat.
O'Neal is a bigger-than-life, charming, outspoken figure, whose 7-foot-1 frame and incredible agility have made him one of the most dominant centers to have played the game.
He became a Laker in 1996, after averaging 27.2 points and 12.5 rebounds in four seasons with Orlando. He immediately helped breathe life into a Lakers franchise that had foundered a bit since the "Showtime" era. Even though he missed 31 games due to a knee injury during the 1996-97 season, he helped lead the team to a 56-26 record, its best since 1990-91. The following season, in 1997-98, the Lakers had their best start in franchise history (11-0) and earned a berth in the Western Conference finals.
Paired with Kobe Bryant and led by Coach Phil Jackson, the Lakers became a dynasty in 1999-2000, amassing a 67-15 record, one of the best in league history. They won an NBA championship that season for the first time since 1988.
The Lakers three-peated over the next two years, and O'Neal became the second player in NBA history -- along with Michael Jordan -- to be named Finals MVP three consecutive seasons. After winning his final title with the team in 2002, he poured fuel on the Lakers-Kings rivalry during the Lakers victory parade by saying, "Sacramento will never be the capital of California. Los Angeles is the new capital of California."
Read more about the Shaquille O'Neal in All Things Lakers, the L.A. Times' interactive database of all things purple and gold.
Join the Lakers at L.A. Times Facebook page.
-- Melissa Rohlin
Photo credit: Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times