After 19 years of making and breaking records in the NBA, Shaquille O'Neal on Wednesday announced via Twitter that he is hanging up his size-23 sneakers.
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From the moment he first stepped onto the pro basketball scene in 1992, Shaq was big news, in more ways than one. Cutting an imposing figure at 7-feet-1, 325 pounds, Shaq overwhelmed opponents with his immense size and skill, and quickly became a fan favorite with his even bigger personality. He also drew the largest rookie contract in sports history at the time when the Orlando Magic dished out $41 million over seven years.
The Magic's gamble on the big man was a success, based on his performance with the team - the Magic won 20 more games than the previous season in his rookie year; made the playoffs for the first time in franchise history his second season, reached the NBA Finals the next year and the Eastern Conference finals the next, with attendance figures rising each of those years. (For more, see For Athletes, Is There Life After Sports?)
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Shaq has also raked in millions from product endorsements, including Aventis' Icy Hot pain-relief patch, VitaminWater, Burger King, Kraft Foods, Pepsi, Comcast, Radio Shack and Taco Bell, which reportedly earns him $15 million a year. But despite earning an estimated $1.8 million per month, Shaq enjoys spending, too. According to documents released during his divorce proceedings in 2009, Shaq's expenses range about $875,000 monthly, including $110,000 for food, $24,300 for gas (he owns dozens of cars), and $6,730 in dry cleaning. Here is a quick peek at Shaq by the numbers: (For related reading, see Who's Cashing In On Pro Sports Revenue?)
By the Numbers
1 -- Shaq was the number one overall draft pick in by the Orlando Magic in 1992 after being a two-time All-American and being named the NCAA Player of the year in '91 while playing for Louisiana State University. He also earned NBA MVP one time in 2000 while playing for the Los Angeles Lakers.
4, 5 & 6 - He earned four NBA championships; is fifth on the all-time scoring list behind Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Karl Malone, Michael Jordan and Wilt Chamberlain; and played for six pro teams (Orlando Magic, L.A. Lakers, Miami Heat. Phoenix Suns, Cleveland Cavaliers and Boston Celtics)
10 - Of his 1,207 game appearances, he did not start in only 10 of them.
15 - Number of times named to the NBA All-Star teams
23 - Shaq's shoe size
23.7 & 10.9 - Average points and rebounds per game, respectively
32, 33, 34 & 36 - Numbers worn on pro jerseys during his career
13,099 & 28,596 - Number of total career rebounds and points scored, respectively
80 million - How many pairs of sneakers under the Shaq and Dunkman labels (both owned by O'Neal) sold in the last 15 years. O'Neal started his own line of affordable sneakers (cost was under $40 a pair) after a fan brought to his attention that prices of star-endorsed shoes were too expensive.
$250 million - Forbes recently listed this as O'Neal's current net worth, nearly double what he was worth in 2009 ($135 million).
$292,198,327 - Salary earned during pro career
Shaquille O'Neal also made it big off the court, releasing six rap albums, one of which went platinum. He also appeared in several television shows as himself as well as music videos, and was on the big screen, including feature films such as "Kazaam," "Blue Chips" and DC comics "Steel." (All were panned by the critics, but it hardly made a dent in O'Neal's celebrity status.) (For more, see Top 7 Pro Athlete Contracts.)
The Bottom Line
Shaquille O'Neal is a shoo-in for the basketball Hall of Fame, but his legacy is hardly over. His nearly four million Twitter fans won't let him slip away so easily. (For related reading, see Michael Jordan: By The Numbers.)