Shaquille O’Neal Denied Elite Feat to Dwight Howard and Rudy Gobert’s Delight, Only Due to Neglected Stats

Published 11/11/2023, 9:47 PM EST

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While stats are a reliable source of information, they shouldn’t be the end-all-be-all for judgment. As a new graphic potentially proves, basketball stats tracking since 1996 may have led to a few misconceptions. For example, the common dunk-related records are led by bigs like Dwight Howard and Rudy Gobert. However, the most dominant player in the game’s history – Shaquille O’Neal – somehow doesn’t lead any of the categories.  For a guy who could easily dunk on 4 people simultaneously, that sounds impossible.

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But, as it turns out, that may have been a case of missing data, rather than the man’s performance. Moreover, there is an additional benefit for the Los Angeles Lakers legend if this post turns out to be true.

Shaquille O’Neal could finally bag all dunking records

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While there were a variety of reasons for Shaq’s success in the NBA, the most common is the most obvious one. Despite unparalleled speed for his size and nimble footwork, sheer dominance was his greatest asset.

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For a 7’1″, over 300-pound individual, that meant easy dunks and finishes at the rim. Yet, all the dunking records have other people’s names on them. Whether it be a single game, season, or career, O’Neal doesn’t lead in any category.

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But, as it turns out, that could just be a computational error. Almost every NBA statistic is a direct result of the tracking on Basketball Reference. However, their database only accounts for dunks post-1996. The Big Aristotle, of course, came into the NBA as a member of the Orlando Magic in 1992. So, as it turns out, the first 4 years of Shaq’s dunking prowess aren’t properly calculated.

In a Reddit post by Select-Resource4275, he details his journey of uncovering stats from the first 4 years of the former MVP’s career. What began with a Troops Frequent Flyer basketball card, eventually led him to a 1993 copy of the Sixers Media Guide. In both places, the 4-time Champion’s dunks were at a mind-numbing 322.

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That would put him in the lead for single-season records. Moreover, that single-season number would land him just 2 short of the career dunks record. With 3 seasons still unaccounted for, it’s safe to assume that the record would belong to Shaquille O’Neal.

But, there is more in it for Shaq than just the records.

Shaq one-ups key rivals

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During his time as a media member post-retirement, the legendary big man has gotten into many tiffs. Especially, with big men from future eras. Aside from Charles Barkley, his biggest beef has been with 2 names in particular.

Firstly, it was Dwight Howard. Whether it was the similar trajectories or the adoption of the Superman nickname, O’Neal was never a big fan of Howard. While DH-12 has done his best to let go of the feud, Shaq has yet to mend fences officially.

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The next was his war against Rudy Gobert. Denying the 3-time DPOY’s defensive talent, Big Diesel would constantly ridicule the 7-foot Frenchman. As it turns out, Dwight Howard and Rudy Gobert are the current leaders for all-time and single-season dunk leaders respectively.

However, with a long overdue revision of the stats, Shaq could finally have the last laugh over his long-tenured rivals.

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Written by:

Priyanshu

827Articles

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My earliest memories of a connection to basketball was through its popularity in my school. Eventually, that gave way to a genuine passion for the sport and the rest, is history. Whether it be gameplay, the tactics, the narratives, or the sheer art on display, the game speaks to me in a way few other things can.
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Edited by:

Aakash Nair

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