For one of the best centers ever to play in the NBA, Shaquille O'Neal is definitely well traveled, and if you have a Shaquille O'Neal rookie card or two from 1992 or 1993 in your collection, it's likely well traveled too. Collectors from several cities have had a chance to enjoy the Shaq experience, as his massive presence in the paint and his larger than life personality have made him a champion at every stop, including the Orlando Magic, the Los Angeles Lakers, the Miami Heat, the Phoenix Suns, the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Boston Celtics.
Make that almost every stop. Despite playing with Anfernee "Penny" Hardaway as a youngster in Orlando, O'Neal was never able to win his first ring. He did get close, leading the Magic to the NBA Finals in the 1994-95 season, but Shaq and company were swept by the Houston Rockets, and after just one more injury-plagued season, he headed west to sign a free agent deal with the Los Angeles Lakers.
Shaq's run in Hollywood was one for the ages. The Lakers won three straight NBA titles (with Shaq winning all three MVP awards) and O'Neal piled up statistics and personal accolades. Only the rise of Kobe Bryant - and the realization that the two of them could not co-exist - brought the good times to an end, and O'Neal was on the move again before the 2004-05 season, this time in a trade to the Miami Heat.
In Florida, Shaq teamed with Dwyane Wade to propel the Heat to prominence. Though his scoring and rebounding numbers began to dip and injuries became a more regular occurrence, O'Neal and his new teammates took down the Dallas Mavericks in the 2006 NBA Finals. It seemed likely that Miami would be his last team, but after a rapid deterioration of the Heat's fortunes, O'Neal was traded to the Phoenix Suns in February of 2008.
The Suns are hoping that Shaq can be even half the player he was in his prime. A 14-time All-Star, O'Neal has scored more than 25,000 points, pulled down well over 10,000 rebounds, led the league in scoring twice and won a regular season MVP award. At 7-foot-1 and somewhere north of 320 pounds, he's simply too big for most post players to handle, and even in the twilight of his career, possesses a surprising amount of skill for a man his size.
O'Neal will certainly be enshrined at Springfield after he retired at the end of the 2011 season, but his 1992-93 rookie cards are extremely affordable. Print runs for sets of that era were very high by today's standards, so supply is plentiful. His Upper Deck # 1, which was obtained via a redemption card when it was first released, is his most valuable card, but it's also been the subject of frequent counterfeiting over the years. Shaq has also been a willing autograph signer for numerous sets and his signed cards can be had at very reasonable prices for a player of his status.
Shaquille O'Neal 1992-93 Rookie Cards
- Fleer # 401
- Hoops # 442
- SkyBox # 382 - SP
- Stadium Club # 247
- Topps # 362
- Ultra # 328
- Upper Deck # 1 - SP