Monday, June 6th, 2011 at 11:00 am  |  23 responses

Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf Remembers Shaq

Courtesy of The Japan Times Ed Odeven:

Shaquille O’Neal’s larger-than-life persona followed him wherever he went during his colorful 19-year odyssey in the NBA.

But even before he joined the Orlando Magic in 1992, the 216-cm giant had established himself as a powerful force in the Southeastern Conference during his three seasons at Louisiana State.

Former LSU teammate and Kyoto Hannaryz guard Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf recalls Shaq’s intense zest for life in those days and the budding star’s unstoppable desire to leave his mark on and off the court.

“Of course people will remember him for different things,” Abdul-Rauf told The Japan Times. “But what stands out to me, especially, in his younger years is the energy and tenacity he approached the game with.”

Abdul-Rauf went by his given name (Chris Jackson) then and played one college season with Shaq before being selected as the No. 3 pick in the 1990 NBA Draft.

“I remember when we were teammates at LSU he said that he would be the first player to have an $80 million contract,” the highest-profile foreign player in bj-league history added. “He exceeded that.”

After four seasons with the Magic, O’Neal agreed to a seven-year, $121 million contract with the Los Angeles Lakers on July 18, 1996. And the rest is history, including his 1,207 regular-season games, 216 playoff appearances, three championship seasons with the Lakers and another title with the Miami Heat in 2006. He logged 41,907 minutes in regular-season games and always commanded big attention from defenders of all shapes and sizes.

Despite O’Neal’s 28,596 career points and goofy persona, wide assortment of nicknames and memorable one-liners, Abdul-Rauf remembers Shaq’s unbridled determination and intense focus to succeed as being trademarks of his basketball career.

“What stood out to me more than anything during those days was that he played with a chip on his shoulder,” Abdul-Rauf said, analyzing the foundation period of Shaq’s career. “He always had something to prove. The way we all should approach the game.

“He was a mammoth of a player. But sadly I believe he also will be known for mostly being able to bulldoze his way into scoring.”

Indeed, dunks — and lots of them — were expected whenever Shaq had the ball in his hands with a chance to score at the offensive end. But mobility and quickness for a man his size (147 kg is his current weight listed on NBA.com) were also factors that he didn’t fully exploit during a Hall of Fame career.

The fact that he missed nearly half of his free-throw attempts (5,935-for-11,252, or 52.7 percent) during his 19-season career warranted the criticism it received. He took at least 471 fouls shots in 15 seasons, so several thousand points were lost due to Shaq’s inability and unwillingness to elevate this aspect of his game.

“He never really developed a low mid-range game, which I believe could have made the game easier for him throughout his career and made it less demanding on his body,” Abdul-Rauf said. “And his free throws never significantly improved, which could have done the same. But despite all of those things he was still able to remarkably dominate for a long amount of time.”

Consider this: The 15-time All-Star averaged 20 or more points in each of his first 14 seasons in the league. A remarkable stretch in any era.

“He was a likable guy by many and I hope his retirement years bring him wisdom and happiness,” Abdul-Rauf concluded.

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  • dma

    Bj league?

  • http://www.slamonline.com Max

    BJ league
    There was another article on this as well XD

  • http://www.slamonline.com Max

    the highest-profile foreign player in bj-league history added
    lmao, what a slut!

  • larrylegend

    well spoken.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Max

    Beginning in October 2010, under the tutelage of former NBA coach Bob Hill, Tyler suited up for Tokyo Apache in the bj league

  • mike


  • http://www.bulls.com Rigo Gonzalez

    When does school start again?
    And Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf was a beast!

  • http://slamonline.com Ben Osborne

    This was dope. Chris Jackson, Shaq and Stanley Roberts? Sick lineup.

  • http://www.bulls.com Rigo Gonzalez

    I wish I could’ve watched those LSU teams, but I only watched NBA back then as a youngin’.
    But Jackson, one of the most prolific college scorers ever, with 7’0″ Stanley Roberts and 7’1″ Shaq?
    Sick lineup indeed.

  • mookie

    Rauf, Rauf, Rauf is on fire!!

  • MikeC.

    I can see Shaq’s lack of a mid-range game from a coaching perspective. Why take 15-18 footers when you’re 7’1″ 350 and being guarded by guys that are 6’10″ 250? Bump ‘em and dunk it. It’s not like grinding in the low post shortened his career. This was season 19 for the Diesel.
    Abul-Rauf was fun to watch in his younger days. I remember reading an article about him (probably in an old SLAM) and he said that there were times when he was balling in college that the game came so easy to him and he was dominating so easily that he thought that God was going to punish him. I think he dropped 50 in a game and was convinced he was going to die that night. Kinda flaky, but better than being a pompous d!ck about it.

  • http://Slamonline BossTerry

    Luther Head should join the BJ league..

  • AMPduppp

    @BossTerry: Nahhh, he’d blow in that league ;p

  • http://www.mvp247.com Greg Tanner

    LOL @ BossTerry!!

  • Fat Lever

    Could you imagine if Kevin Love, Rudy Gay, and Oj Mayo were all involved in a trade in this league? “Kyoto was able to turn G@y/Love into Mayo via BJ.”

  • thecomputerdude

    Shaq did not need a mid range game. His strength was playing in the paint and he did that well.

  • Jose

    When your that Strong, the J isn’t needed, i mean thats what make a center. He legitimately was the LCL ; Last Cener Left.

  • http://slamonline BossTerry

    lol @ amp..

  • http://slamonline.com Yknot

    It sucks to be in the bj league.

  • dma

    If shaq developed a midrange game people would still find a way to call him out for being soft

  • giogolo

    Shaf for the most had 15-16 good years. His last 3 was forgettable.

  • http://fkjslf.com Jukai

    I’m all with MikeC. It’d be one thing if Shaq did exactly what everyone said he’d do: play ten seasons, lose his athleticism and become too fact and leave in his eleventh or twelfth season cause he was all-strength, no skill and his body gave out on him… but dude played 19-seasons! What did he need to save his body for, so he could play 25 seasons?

  • Mike From Spain

    I agree about the FTs, but he was damn near unguardable by other centers without a midrange game. He was still very very dominant into his 13th-14th season in the league, very remarkable. I guess that Shaq was happy being Shaq, and it’s just silly to think that he should have developed some ‘finesse’. But hell, 53% FT percentage… that was a huge liability for crunch time, he should have worked on that!