Shaquille “Shaq” O'Neal won one NBA regular season MVP award during the 1999-2000 season. Additionally, he won three NBA Finals MVP awards during his career.
Shaquille “Shaq” O’Neal won only one regular season NBA MVP award for the 1999-2000 season. Shaq did win three NBA Finals MVP awards.
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How Many M. V. P.S. Does Shaq Have?
With 4 championship rings, 15 All-Star selections, and an enduring legacy as one of the most dominant centers ever, Shaquille O'Neal had a career that cemented his superstardom. Nicknamed “Shaq” and “The Diesel” for his sheer power, the 7-foot-1 force of nature was nearly unstoppable on the court.
He consistently ranked among the league leaders in scoring, field goal percentage, and blocks. However, individual accolades eluded Shaq, aside from a single NBA Most Valuable Player award. While he only won 1 regular season MVP, his NBA Finals MVP awards truly exemplified his ability to take over when it mattered most.
Overview of Shaq's Epic Basketball Career
Before diving into the MVPs, it is worth reflecting on just how incredible Shaq's basketball career was as a whole:
- Championships – 4 titles in 2000, 2001, 2002 (Lakers three-peat), 2006 (with Miami)
- All-Star Selections – 15 total selections, tied for most all-time
- Scoring – Ranked 8th all-time with 28,596 career points
- Rebounds – 13th all-time with 13,099 career rebounds
- Blocks – 5th all-time with 2,732 career blocks
- FG% – Led the league in FG% 10 times and shot 58% for his career
Clearly, Shaq delivered night after night throughout his 19 NBA seasons. His rare combination of massive size, nimble footwork, soft hands, and sheer power mesmerized fans. But did Shaq's individual dominance translate to regular season MVP awards?
What Makes a Player MVP Worthy?
The NBA MVP award recognizes the best performing player over the course of the entire regular season. It does not take the playoffs into account. MVP voters consider various factors when choosing their winner:
- Individual stats – Scoring, rebounding, blocks, steals, FG%, etc.
- Team success – Win-loss record and seeding
- Historical impact – Record setting numbers and milestones
- Highlight performances – Signature games, buzzer-beaters, etc.
- Off-court narrative – Media coverage and public perception
In the modern era, the MVP award almost always goes to an offensive star on one of the top teams in the league. Big men were favored early on, while perimeter scorers and wings have dominated lately.
Here is a breakdown of MVP winners by position since 2000:
- Guards – 14
- Forwards – 4
- Centers – 2
Given voter criteria, was Shaq able to stand out enough in the regular season to take home multiple MVP trophies?
Shaq's Sole Regular Season MVP in 1999-2000
Shaq won his lone regular season Most Valuable Player award during the 1999-2000 season. It was a dominant year where everything came together for both Shaq and the Lakers:
- 67 Wins – The Lakers finished with a 67-15 record, the best in the league.
- Scoring Champion – Shaq averaged 29.7 PPG to win the scoring title.
- FG% Leader – He shot 57.4% from the field, leading the league.
- MVP Voting – Shaq received 120 out of 124 1st place votes in a landslide.
- Best PER – His PER of 30.6 was the highest in the NBA that year.
Let's take a closer look at Shaq's key stats for the 1999-2000 regular season to see why voters recognized him as the undisputed MVP:
Shaq Stats – 1999-2000 Season
As you can see, Shaq was at the peak of his powers during this MVP campaign. He averaged nearly 6 more PPG than his career norm, showing his scoring mentality. His efficiency was also off the charts with a 30.6 PER and 57.4% shooting. Voters rightfully rewarded Shaq for his phenomenal regular season production.
Competition Facing Shaq for Regular Season MVP
While Shaq's 1999-2000 season made him a clear MVP selection, he faced stiff competition for the award during other seasons:
- Michael Jordan – MJ won 5 MVPs in the late 80s and early 90s before retiring.
- Karl Malone – The Jazz power forward won 2 MVPs in Shaq's early years.
- Tim Duncan – The Spurs legend won back-to-back MVPs in 2002 and 2003.
- Allen Iverson – AI won the 2001 MVP during his scoring title season.
- Steve Nash – The Suns PG snagged 2 MVPs in 2005 and 2006.
- LeBron James – LeBron won 4 MVPs between 2009-2013 as he peaked.
Going up against the likes of MJ, Malone, Duncan, and LeBron made it difficult for Shaq to claim more than 1 regular season MVP trophy. There were certainly other seasons where Shaq could have won, but voters opted for others instead.
Dominant Performances in 3 NBA Finals MVPs
While Shaq fell short in regular season MVP voting after 2000, he cemented his legacy by dominating in the NBA Finals. He powered the Lakers to a three-peat and won 3 straight NBA Finals MVP awards:
2000 Finals MVP
- 38 PPG – Shaq scored 38 points per game against the Pacers, a Finals record.
- 16.7 RPG – He also pulled down over 16 boards a night.
- 57% FG – His shooting percentage showcased his efficiency.
- 2.7 BPG – Shaq also blocked nearly 3 shots per game.
- Game 1 – Shaq went for 43 points and 19 rebounds to start the series.
- Game 6 – He clinched the title with 41 points and 12 rebounds.
2001 Finals MVP
- 33 PPG – Shaq averaged 33 points against the 76ers.
- 15.8 RPG – He again pulled down over 15 rebounds per game.
- 3.4 BPG – He swatted away opponents at the rim.
- Sweep – The Lakers breezed to a 4-0 series win over the 76ers.
- Game 2 – Shaq exploded for 28 points and 20 rebounds.
- Game 3 – He poured in 30 points, blocked 8 shots, and grabbed 12 rebounds.
2002 Finals MVP
- 36.3 PPG – Shaq scored over 36 a night versus the Nets.
- 50% FG – He shot over 50% even as the defense focused on him.
- Game 1 – Shaq went for 43 points in the series opener.
- Game 2 – He followed up with 40 points and 12 rebounds.
- Game 3 – Shaq took over with 35 points, 11 rebounds and 5 blocks.
As you can see, Shaq lived up to the moment in his 3 Finals MVP seasons. His scoring, efficiency, and rebounding against opposing centers were phenomenal.
Shaq vs. All-Time Greats in MVP Awards
To provide full perspective on Shaq's MVP profile, let's see how he compares to other NBA legends:
- Michael Jordan – 5 regular season MVPs, 6 Finals MVPs
- LeBron James – 4 regular season MVPs, 4 Finals MVPs
- Kareem Abdul-Jabbar – 6 regular season MVPs, 2 Finals MVPs
- Magic Johnson – 3 regular season MVPs, 3 Finals MVPs
- Tim Duncan – 2 regular season MVPs, 3 Finals MVPs
- Kobe Bryant – 1 regular season MVP, 2 Finals MVPs
- Shaquille O'Neal – 1 regular season MVP, 3 Finals MVPs
While Shaq lags behind in regular season MVPs, his 3 Finals MVPs put him right there with the all-time greats. He stepped up when the pressure was highest to deliver dominant performances.
Conclusion – Shaq's Enduring Legacy of Clutch Play
In the final analysis, Shaquille O'Neal won 1 regular season MVP award in 2000 at the pinnacle of his powers. While he was only recognized once in the regular season over his career, his 3 Finals MVPs are a true testament to his impact when it mattered most.
The raw numbers speak for themselves – averaging 37.7 PPG, 14.7 RPG, and over 3 BPG across his 3 Finals MVP seasons. These epic Finals performances, along with 4 rings and countless other accolades, make Shaq an undisputed all-time legend despite just a single regular season MVP.