The Allstate Sugar Bowl Believes in Champions – Shaquille O’Neal
Photo Courtesy of USA Basketball
Shaquille O’Neal has a nine-foot, 1,200-pound bronze statue outside the Staples Center in Los Angeles. He also has a 900-pound likeness in Baton Rouge outside LSU’s basketball practice facility. He’s a member of the Pro Basketball and College Basketball Halls of Fame, a four-time NBA champion, a 15-time NBA All-Star and a Gold Medalist for the USA Olympic Team. Before those memorable honors, “Shaq” was recognized twice by the Allstate Sugar Bowl as the Corbett Award winner for the top amateur athlete in the state of Louisiana.
In Jackie MacMullan’s article for ESPN.com on O’Neal’s retirement in 2011, she wrote, “O’Neal will be remembered as one of the most dominant, recognizable and controversial figures in the game, whose body of work included rap records, movies, a lengthy business portfolio and an even lengthier history of philanthropic deeds.”
The story closed with a quote from O’Neal, “I tried to make people happy. And I tried to have fun. I think I did both.”
O’Neal won four NBA Championships and scored 28,596 career points (fifth in NBA history) with 13,099 career rebounds (12th in league history) and 2,732 blocked shots (seventh all-time). He was the NBA Most Valuable Player in 1999-2000, as well as a three-time NBA Finals MVP, a three-time All-Star Game MVP and the NBA Rookie of the Year. He made 15 All-Star Game appearances and finished in the top-10 of MVP voting 13 times.
A Texas product, Shaq played three seasons at LSU and scored 1,941 career points, fifth on the school’s all-time list. He is second on the school’s career rebound list with 1,217. He was a McDonald’s High School All-American in 1989 and then a two-time AP First-Team All-America selection in college, while earning National Player of the Year honors in 1991.
In international play, he won Gold Medals the 1996 Olympics and in the 1994 FIBA World Championships, earning tournament MVP honors.
He won the Corbett Award in both 1991 and 1992 and is one of seven winners of Olympic Gold Medals to earn the honor. He is also one of three Pro Basketball Hall-of-Famers to be recognized as the top amateur athlete in Louisiana (joining Pete Maravich, 1968 and 1969, and Robert Parish, 1975).
“The Sugar Bowl has had the opportunity to be associated with some of the greatest athletes in the country,” Allstate Sugar Bowl CEO Paul Hoolahan said. “But someone like Shaquille O’Neal, he’s one of the greatest athletes in the world. We are very proud that he’s a Louisiana legend and a part of the illustrious list of Corbett Award winners that we have honored.”
From its earliest years, the Sugar Bowl Committee has been honored to provide opportunities for young athletes from around the country, athletes like Shaquille O’Neal. That’s because, at the Allstate Sugar Bowl, We Believe in Champions.
The Allstate Sugar Bowl Believes in Champions
Champions have long defined the Allstate Sugar Bowl. The list of Hall of Fame athletes who have competed in the annual contest is staggering. But the list of champions extends well past the football game. Since its inception in 1934, the Allstate Sugar Bowl has given opportunities to young athletes in many amateur sporting events.
In late 2016, the Allstate Sugar Bowl published stories on five athletes who competed in Sugar Bowl events and then went on to excellence after their New Orleans’ experiences.
Feature No. 1: Derek Wolfe, Football
Feature No. 2: Bob Cousy, Basketball
Feature No. 3: Patrick Mullins, Soccer
Feature No. 4: Jemima Jelaget Sumgong, Road Racing
Feature No. 5: Janice Davis, Track & Field
This was followed by four additional stories in the fall of 2017.
Feature No. 6: Hal Sutton, Golf
Feature No. 7: Barbara Farris, Basketball
Feature No. 8: Julio Jones, Football/Track & Field
Feature No. 9: Archie Manning, Football
The spring of 2019 brought another segment of featured “Champions”:
Feature No. 10: Shaquille O’Neal, Basketball
Feature No. 11: Aleia Hobbs, Track & Field
Feature No. 12: Sean Tuohy, Basketball
Feature No. 13: Davey O’Brien, Football
Feature No. 14: Haley Moore, Golf