Shaquille O’Neal Named NBA All-Star
Suns center Shaquille O’Neal today was named to his 15th career NBA All-Star Game in 17 seasons, the NBA announced.
O’Neal’s 15 berths are the most among active players, and move him into second place in league history behind only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s NBA-record 19 career selections. Shaq will join teammate Amar’e Stoudemire, who was voted a starter, on the West squad on Feb. 15th at US Airways Center in Phoenix and give the Suns multiple players in the All-Star Game for the fifth-straight season.
After a one-year absence, Shaq’s return to the midseason exhibition comes during a season in which he has averaged 18.2 points (2nd-team), a team-best 9.1 rebounds and a team-high 1.58 blocks. O’Neal’s 18.2-point scoring average is his highest since 2005-06 when he helped lead the Miami Heat to their first NBA title, and is the fifth-highest among all NBA centers this season behind only Houston’s Yao Ming (Western Conference All-Star starter), Orlando’s Dwight Howard (East starter), San Antonio’s Tim Duncan (West starter) and Minnesota’s Al Jefferson.
Shaq’s stellar play in 36 games so far this season includes 13 scoring efforts of at least 20 points, five more than he had during the entire 2007-08 season, and a team-leading 18 double-doubles, just three fewer than O’Neal tallied in 61 games last season. Shaq owns the second-highest field goal percentage in the NBA (.599) this season and is shooting 62.8 percent from the free-throw line, the second-highest of his career.
The Big Cactus earned this selection in part by raising his game even further in his last 18 games, averaging 22.1 points and 9.7 rebounds, recording 11 20-point games and shooting 60.6 percent from the field and 66.1 percent from the line.
O’Neal has now earned an All-Star nod in every season except 2007-08 (no game in lockout-shortened 1998-99 season).