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Shaquille O’Neal retires: What’s your favorite Shaq basketball card & moment?

By Chris Olds | Basketball Editor | Commentary

“Excellence is not a singular act, it’s a habit.”

In one of his many memorable interviews, Shaquille O’Neal became “The Big Aristotle” with that singular quote.

And after 19 years of playing in the NBA, it was a singular video sent to the masses via Twitter on Wednesday that said his Hall of Fame career (first-ballot lock) had come to an end.

Unlike few athletes in our time, Shaq truly arrived upon the scene in 1992 breaking backboards and perhaps ushering in a new era of basketball cards where The Brand was just that from Day 1. Sure, Air Jordans took some time to inflate — and Brand LeBron has come since — but there’s only one Shaq.

His career can be recapped with a few stats — but there’s no doubt that his excellence was a habit for most of his career. You don’t win four NBA titles, make 15 All-Star teams and score more than 28,000 points by just being big and tall. And you don’t score yourself a spot in countless card collections by just putting up points, either.

You do it by being accessible to fans via Twitter, not by having an inaccessible air of success. You do it by being a fool online (see the video on the playlist after his retirement clip). You do it in countless memorable interviews. You do it in other ways. You do all that and then you produce on the court, too.

But, most importantly, you do it by being yourself — not just a brand.

That’s not to say that every card a collector owns is absolutely treasured. Shaq arrived right in the heart of an era of mass-produced cardboard treasures that somehow lost that “treasures” part over time. Even still, if you wanted to own every one of Shaq’s cards that are priced on Beckett.com, it’d cost you $104,265.67 right now.

Shaq appears on just 5,557 different cards — it seems like it should be way higher — beginning with his Classic cards in 1992 and ending with his NBA releases still coming from Panini America today. He appears on just 411 different autographed cards — a low number — and 1,719 memorabilia cards as his career comes to a close. Despite his countless college cards from his once-exclusive deal, only 11 cards from 1992-93 are classified as Rookie Cards. Again, that’s an attainable and affordable group to collect — unlike many of today’s biggest-name rookies who might not have much success to show for it yet.

For me, the arrival of a player like Shaq meant buying a bit more cards — and of course Topps returned to the NBA fold as a card manufacturer that year with its Topps Gold inserts (above) and later its Stadium Club Beam Team inserts driving the hobby — no “When Doves Cry” singing included. (Seriously, go watch that video after his retirement clip…) I still have some of them, though many have moved on through the years. Oddly, I don’t own a single Shaq autograph.

There’s no secret that the NBA has had its share of image problems — and it has the dark shadow of labor issues looming — but even in his worst days Shaquille O’Neal wasn’t one of them. He’s a character who has performed on the court in ways that place him among the greatest in the game — but that isn’t the only way that he defined his greatness.

He’s a character who won’t be forgotten easily.

What’s your favorite Shaq moment or piece of Shaq memorabilia? We want to hear about it …

Chris Olds is the editor of Beckett Basketball. Have a comment, question or idea? Send an e-mail to him at colds@beckett.com. Follow him on Twitter by clicking here.

26 Comments

He hasn’t sold in my shop FOR YEARS!! Should of gave up at least 4 years ago… I can not believe teams still paid him a lot to play. He spent most of the past few years Not playing…
People will consider him one of the best, however as big men, he was not near Chamberlain. Couldn’t hit a free throw, and I thought overrated. Any BIG man can sit under a basket and drop 2. He was good, but not in my o,r a lot of peoples, top 10 of all time.

Posted June 1, 2011 at 5:15 pm | Permalink
Todd Gack

Wow, that Beam Team rekindles great memories. Never owned it, but I bought a copy of the Hoops All-Magic Team shortly after it came out. I still look at those cards, just insert, with amazement. They hold almost a mystical aura about them, in a time where “rare” was 1:36 or, even more scarce, 1:72 (or every 2 boxes back then), and with no autograph, and 5+ years before the first game-used jersey cards. They still mean more to me than most of the low-print run, high-dollar cards of today. Maybe it’s just because it rings of nostalgia, but it’s cool to see these cards still held in high regard. I’d love nothing more for some great inserts today. No game-used content, no autographs, just inserts in the hope to establish some brand identity. They just don’t exist anymore. I’d love to see something is cool as the 92-93 Beam Team or the 1994 Holoview Die-Cuts, but for some reason the manufacturers don’t see the need for these cards. Just another David Lee or Carl Landry white jersey swatch or an autograph of Sean May.

Posted June 1, 2011 at 6:26 pm | Permalink

93-94 Ultra Power in the Key

moe.

Posted June 1, 2011 at 7:21 pm | Permalink
Ryan

I owned the Shaq Beam Team card for all of 15 seconds back then. I just happened to have $5 for a pack and took a chance and the card store owner pulled out two $100 bills, layed them on the display case, and being a 12 year old kid, I took the offer. The card store owner even went out to my parents car and told them what I just pulled and why I had all this money. The funny thing is, my parents made me put the money in my bank account, in hindsight that was a good move. I still remeber that high Beckett value was $325 for that card back in the day! Thanks for the memories!

Posted June 1, 2011 at 7:41 pm | Permalink
SERGIO

Fav moments – went to block vern fleming and knocked out all his teeth … not funny but memorable because of his size and him keeping pace with a PG on a fast break. him dunking on 1 or 2 guys and cabbage patchin after the funk. phoenix back board. i remember watching and the game being held up for 30 minutes to an hour.

Fav card – I forget the year, but it’s his topps chrome or finest card of him holding the trophy in a lakers uniform. card was on card auto and it was SWEET!

It’s a sad day for me. I can remember when this man dominated the NBA. he was a force!! everything from dunking players thru the rim, to ripping down back boards, to break dancing (mainky wind milling) with his size . He should have gone a long time ago, but the NBA pays a premium for size.

To all the Laker fans, Kobe made him eat his words!

Posted June 1, 2011 at 9:45 pm | Permalink
David Johnson

His 1992 Classic card has so many great memories. I remember when that was the only Shaq card available and it was super HOT.

Posted June 2, 2011 at 8:17 am | Permalink

hey rookies and stars look at the stats he is 5th on the all time scoring list. not bad for a person who you called overrated. he has over 25000 pts and 4 title rings. by the way who was credited by giving d wade his first ring you guest it the big man shaq. also there two players better than wilt, bill russell and kareem abdul jabbar.

Posted June 2, 2011 at 8:55 am | Permalink
matteo

I have every single Shaq release from 1992-93 and for good reason. The guy symbolized the error and was larger than lift. 1992-93 was a time of the inset card chase. It all started with 1992-93 hoops draft redemption card (due to agreement he had with Classic) that card at the time was 400.00. Then UD came out with their trade in card as well. Several of other rookies and inserts and also other companies like Tony’s Pizza and Drakes will be considered hard to find in the coming years.

Yes the values of his cards have gone down drastically but then again who’s haven’t? I can see a big boost in his cards once he joints the hall of fame and 10 years down the road I think they will hold their value very well.

Beam Team regular issue and members only will be on tops of everyone’s list to get
Followed by draft redemption card, Magic’s all rookie, UD trade card.
Also out there and will be in demand hoops draft redemption card unredeemed, they are still out there. That was inserted at 1 per case.

Shaq is a name that will go down as an all time great in the game for sure

Posted June 2, 2011 at 9:35 am | Permalink
Caleb Douthitt

My favorite is the autogrphed card that came with my 1992-93 Classic gold set.

Shaq may have not been top ten all time IMO, but a legend none the less. This guy belongs on the 50 greatest list. And is deserving of being called the top ten centers ever.

I still watch the movie Blue Chips with Nick Nolte and I hope to see you as an anylyst on TNT or ESPN, Shaq. Good luck with whatever you decide, just no more movies like Shazam and the rapping will probably not work out either buddy.

Posted June 2, 2011 at 11:05 am | Permalink

A few weeks ago, I picked up my first SHAQ game used card, from Fleer Genuine. It’s a Genuine Coverage Lakers GU jersey card, and the jersey takes up about 3/4 of the card. It’s bright Lakers yellow. I have about 10 cards total in my “never for sale, never going to be touched, only to be admired from afar” hoops PC, and that card went in that PC as fast as it was delivered from the PO.

I have been collecting cards for over 20 years, and I STILL got excited when I was able to trade for my first Shaq GU card. Say what you will, but as an athlete, entertainer, humanitarian, and person, Shaq is one of the best.

If you are going to make $200 million playing a kids game, have fun with it. He did. His entrance at the Phoenix all-star game with the Jabbawockeez, his countless all-star game moments, staring at his hand as he dunked over the Trailblazers, “CAN YOU DIG IT?!”, and not just shattering backboards but bringing down entire hoops? Come on. Who has had a more colorful career than Shaq?

Yes, he probably retired a few years late, but check the files for Ali, Unitas, Jordan, Emmitt, Mays, and some of the other ALL TIME GREATS. It happens. Will people remember Shaq as a Celtic, Sun, or Cavalier? No. But he put the Magic on the map, brought the Lakers back to the top of the world, and helped the Heat to their first (and still only…) title. Shaq is top 10 on almost everyone’s list, easily top 5 when it comes to centers, and just a great guy.

I, for one, will miss Shaq.

Posted June 2, 2011 at 1:23 pm | Permalink
Jeffrey Flaherty

I am 28 years old, and I would have to say he is best center I have ever seen in my young life. Guy was an absolute beast for about 15 years straight (92-93 thru about 05-06). He was strong as a bull but still agile enough to have great footwork and the hit soft shots around the basket. You had to double him, or he was too much for any other player on the court to handle one-on-one. Granted, his last 3 or 4 years (post miami heat), he lost a step or two, got injured a ton, and he did have free throw issues. But how soon we forget the dominance of a player like Shaq (or Jordan), and how they truly changed the game, just makes me laugh…

Posted June 2, 2011 at 1:35 pm | Permalink
Ryan

I owned the Shaq Beam Team card for all of 15 seconds back then. I just happened to have $5 for a pack and took a chance and the card store owner pulled out two $100 bills, layed them on the display case, and being a 12 year old kid, I took the offer. The card store owner even went out to my parents car and told them what I just pulled and why I had all this money. The funny thing is, my parents made me put the money in my bank account, in hindsight that was a good move. I still remeber that high Beckett value was $325 for that card back in the day! Thanks for the memories!

Posted June 2, 2011 at 1:50 pm | Permalink
AdAm

People are going to say what they’re going to about Shaq, but he was defiantly one of the best entertainers Basketball or pro sports for that matter, has ever seen. From Breaking backboards, to commercials , to Rapping on stage about Kobe he was………..SHAQ. My favorite card is probably the 1992 Classic LP1. That card was the Holy Grail Back in ’92. Now its just another card in a sea of cards. Shaq on.

Posted June 2, 2011 at 2:24 pm | Permalink
Lou

Favorite Shaq card would be any of his rookies. I was huge into the NBA back then and was ripping packs looking for them like they were the Golden Ticket. I ended up selling them all but the chase for them was something I won’t forget.

Posted June 2, 2011 at 3:29 pm | Permalink
Scott

Upper Deck McDonalds rookie card back in the days. Never got one out of a pack but ran across a couple at my last card show for .50 cents

Posted June 2, 2011 at 4:48 pm | Permalink
Nathan Crandell

Never been a huge basketball fan, but always a Shaq fan, not because his was a great player but because he was/is easily accessible to fans. I mean, come on, any guy that plays a super hero in Shazzam is the man in my book. And now with his wife in the reality realm, which my wife watches, his popularity is due to rise more.

Posted June 3, 2011 at 6:21 am | Permalink

I have been collecting Shaq since 1992. My favorite Shaq is either 03-04 Topps Jersey Edition Logoman Auto #1/1 or 09-10 National Treasures Dual Logoman w/ LeBron (I own both of them). His 92-93 Beam Team is a pretty awesome card in my opinion.

Favorite moment is when he and the Lakers won their first championshp.

Posted June 4, 2011 at 9:45 pm | Permalink
Thomas Capps

My fav card of shaq ia the Classic Auto in his LSU uni….My fav moment was his and hakeem going at it..

Posted June 5, 2011 at 12:31 am | Permalink
don

people kill me when they say shaq had no skill and was over rated ha what a joke they say anybody can sit under the basket and dunk all game long hmmmm so why is he #5 scoring with 28,000 pts missing 5000 freethrows and missing 300 games still 5th ALL TIME scoring Wilt Chamberlain was a carrer 51.1% from the free throw line just sayin …… If anybody could do it how come he is 3rd all time amongst Centers? If its so easy who else has done what he has done besides Kareem & Wilt? Plus 4 rings ….. yes it wouldve been nice to see shaq lose some weight and prolong his career but it is what it is… and as far as him being overpayed his last few years you have to talk to the union heads about the pay scale in the NBA

Posted June 5, 2011 at 5:40 pm | Permalink
Pascal (Paz)

Hey guys,

I have a few Shaq cards from 92-93. I can’t seem to find them anywhere. I thought seing as Shaq just retired I might look into it. Prob worth nuthin, but still they are as mint as when i bought it in 92.

Cards i have are:

– 92-93 Ultra Fleer REJECTORS Shaquille O’Neal
– 92-93 Hoops Face-to-Face Shaquille O’Neal/David Robinson
– 92-93 Topps Black Gold Shaquille O’Neal

Cheers :)

Paz

Posted June 6, 2011 at 6:26 am | Permalink
Corey Tams

Favourite card: 92-93 Topps Printing Plate 1/1

Favourite moment: When he won a title with Wade in Miami

Posted June 7, 2011 at 12:43 am | Permalink
PJ

I have a Shaq card that I cannot find in any Beckett, it is a cartoon card and it is called Shaquille Oneal the rapping jack@$$. Any idea where I could go to find out about this card? It may not be worth anything or something but I would like some info on it!

Thanks,

Pj

Posted November 27, 2011 at 10:31 am | Permalink
anthony koch

i have a card that i cant find in google bind yahoo searches its a shaq and jordan on the same card its cartoon card it says on it air to the throne in gold letters the card is mostly read where can i look it up to find the value of it

Posted October 23, 2012 at 8:37 am | Permalink
Will

SHAQUILLE O NEAL 1992-93 STADIUM CLUB MEMBERS ONLY BEAM TEAM This is the card to own when he makes the HOF. There were only 10k of these cards and at the time were not worth much. Now try to find one that is at least BGS 8.5 or better. They are getting harder to find as collectors are scooping these cards up.
This is the card to own

Posted March 24, 2013 at 6:42 am | Permalink
jammaar

I have these two cards with shaq on it.one is an all star rookie one of 25,000 and the other has a gold line around it and says shaq attack one of 25,000.these two cards are great.

Posted July 6, 2013 at 3:39 pm | Permalink

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