Shaquille O’Neal – The Nickname MVP

After listening to the Book of Basketball 2.0 podcast by Bill Simmons, it got me thinking about Shaq. Growing up in Los Angeles, I got to experience Shaq for eight fun, interesting, frustrating, exhilarating years. From 1996, when he signed as a free agent from the Orlando Magic, to 2004 when the Lakers traded Shaq to the Miami Heat, Shaq made sure his presence was felt in LA … on the court and off the court.

During his career, Shaq did a lot. He won championships, an MVP, multiple Finals MVPs, multiple All-Star selections and All-NBA selections … and also made us laugh a whole lot. Though this topic is discussed every now and then with Shaq, it’s not touched on enough, and it’s one of the things Shaq was best at – Nicknames.

Shaq’s Best (and funniest) Nicknames

Feel free to skip ahead at any time!

Shaq The Diesel
Superman The Big Aristotle
M.D.E. Shaq Fu
Wilt Chamberneezy Osama Bin Shaq
The Big Deporter The Big Fella
The Big Cactus The Big Shamrock


Shaq’s original nickname is … Shaq. He was born Shaquille Rashaun O’Neal, but everyone shortened it to ‘Shaq’.

Shaquille is an Islamic name. It means ‘little.’ Rashaun means ‘warrior.’ [My mother] said, ‘You’re my little warrior. I’ve fought with you; I’ve fought for you,'” he says.

Shaq on the meaning of his name.

The Diesel

The nickname ‘The Diesel’ signified a couple things. It implied that Shaq was strong and built like a diesel engine and it was the name of Shaq’s rap album from 1993 … that went platinum!


This is probably the name that is synonymous with Shaq. Shaq has a tattoo of the Superman “S” and the words “Man of Steel” on his left bicep. Not only is Shaq a huge Superman fan, the name fit him perfectly. He was larger and faster than anyone in the league that it looked like he was flying, and he was so strong that ‘Man of Steel’ seemed a little too accurate.

Big Aristotle

Shaq declared himself ‘The Big Aristotle’ after winning the MVP in ’99/00. People used to make fun of Shaq that he was uneducated, but in fact Shaq is extremely intelligent and has multiple degrees.

I would like to be referred to as ‘The Big Aristotle’

Shaq after winning the MVP in 1999/200


Shaq called himself MDE, which was short for “Most Dominant Ever”. Usually I am against nicknaming yourself, but Shaq is the nickname MVP, so we let this one slide. Shaq also designed the LA Lakers 2020 city uniforms, which released last week. “MDE” is listed on the white trim, in typical Shaq-fashion.

Shaq Fu

Shaq Fu was a game that came out in 1995 for the Super Nintendo System (Super NES). I had this system as a kid (in ’95 I was 10) and you know damn well I had this game. Not only was Shaq kicking people’s asses on the court, now we could all kick ass as Shaq. Let’s just say the cover is the best thing about this game.

Wilt Chamberneezy

Kobe Bryant actually gave Shaq this nickname, dubbing O’Neal the great “Wilt Chamberneezy” after NBA Hall-of-Famer Wilt Chamberlain. I assume this happened around 2000 because that’s when Snoop Dogg was adding “neezy” and “nizzle” to everything.

Osama Bin Shaq

I actually forgot about this one and laughed so hard when I found it again. Shaq called himself this after “terrorizing” the New Jersey Nets (mainly Keith Van Horn) in the 2002 NBA Finals. This nickname, while hilarious, is a little touchy and probably wouldn’t work in today’s society.

The Big Deporter

Shaq called himself this after eliminating foreign-born centers in consecutive series in 1999/2000. Who were the Centers? Arvydas Sabonis (Blazers) and Rik Smits (Pacers). Another nickname that might not work well now, but in 2000 that shit worked just fine.

The Big Fella

I heard this nickname a ton, mainly by Lakers color commentator Stu Lantz. It was just a nice, easy way to talk about Shaq without saying Shaq. Everyone knew who the Big Fella was.

The Big Cactus / Shaqtus

When Shaq was traded to the Phoenix Suns in 2007, he had to call himself something. Thus, ‘The Big Cactus’ was born. Shaqtus was also used because you know … Shaq goes with everything.

The Big Shamrock

Keeping up with the tradition of nicknaming yourself, Shaq called himself ‘The Big Shamrock’ when he was with the Boston Celtics. Even today, it’s still weird seeing Shaq in Celtics colors. Ugh.

Bonus: The Shaq Pack

Sure, Shaq never actually went by this nickname, but I vividly remember this combo at Burger King …. so it goes on the list!

Shaq, thank you for making us laugh then… and now! Comment below or hit me up on Twitter to let me know your favorite one … or any I forgot!




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