NBA legend Shaquille O’Neal is the Kevin Bacon of the NBA Finals. The big fella played with six different NBA franchises over a 19-year NBA career. That means Shaq played with a lot of different players, just the way journeyman actor Kevin Bacon acted with a lot of different actors — inspiring the game Six Degress of Kevin Bacon, which linked nearly everyone in Hollywood history to Bacon by six degrees or less. He’s so, you know, Footloose.
ESPN’s data crew turned up this very Bacon-like fact about Shaq: each of the last 36 NBA Finals has included a player who played with Shaq. That’s an amazing stat — like linking Kevin Bacon to Katherine Hepburn type stuff.
Shaq played excellent, world-beating basketball for three NBA teams. The Orlando Magic, the Los Angeles Lakers and the Miami Heat all got the best of Shaq, who was the most dominant big man in the NBA for at least a decade. Shaq won four titles. (Take that, Charles Barkley.)
After that, Shaq played for some other teams, like the Celtics, the Cavaliers (with LeBron James), and the Suns. He didn’t dominate for those squads, but still — being Shaq, after all — left his mark on the franchises. Shaq liked ESPN’s find so much he shared it on social.