Ben Sztajnkrycer

Biography of Shaquille O'Neal

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He’s got dozens of nicknames: Shaq Fu, The Big Shaqtus, The Big Daddy, The Big Baryshnikov, The Big Shamrock, The Diesel, Dr. Shaq, The Real Deal, Superman. But no matter what you choose to call him, Shaquille O’Neal is a living legend.

He’s larger than life…literally. He stands a breathtaking seven-feet, one-inch tall, making him lofty even by the standards of the NBA. He weighs 325 pounds. He was a star athlete at Louisiana State University, where the Associated Press named him College Player of the Year in 1991. The Orlando Magic drafted him number one overall in 1992, and in 1993 he became the NBA Rookie of the Year. He was an unstoppable center, and went on to play in the league for 19 years, amassing four NBA titles. He was named MVP in the regular season, the Finals, and the All-Star Game.


Ben Sztajnkrycer was born in Montreal, Canada and moved to Los Angeles to pursue filmmaking. He is a graduate of UCLA’s prestigious screenwriting program, where he won numerous awards for his work. He teaches screenwriting at Cal State Fullerton. In his free time, Ben loves watching “Polar Express” and “Thomas the Tank Engine” over and over and over and over with his four-year-old son.


In his second year, Shaq led the Magic to finish the season with a record 50 wins, enabling them to make the playoffs for the first time. The Magic ultimately lost every playoff game to the Pacers, but this did not stop Shaq from being voted into the All-Star game. In his third season, Shaq led the NBA in scoring, helping the Magic secure a phenomenal 57 wins (the best record in the Eastern Conference). But once again the team was routed in the playoffs, with the Houston Rockets sweeping the series. Shaq finished in second place in the MVP voting.

Shaq was sidelined by injuries for much of his fourth and final season with the Magic, ultimately missing 28 games. His time on the court nonetheless helped the Magic win 60 games. But his team was once again defeated in the post-season, when Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls swept the Eastern Conference Finals.

Shaq became a free agent at the end of this season…

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