With the 2012 NBA Draft just a few hours away, league commissioner David Stern will announce 19-year-old, consensus National Player of the Year Anthony Davis as the first overall pick. A player of Davis’ caliber only comes around once in a generation– and Stern has had the privilege of ushering in the game’s future first-ballot Hall of Famers a few times. With Davis going No. 1, and undoubtedly a heavy favorite for Rookie of the Year next season, Life + Times takes a look back at the one-of-a-kind players that have not only helped to transform the Association, but also helped to reinvent the game worldwide.
Shaquille O’Neal, Class of ‘92
Shaq entered the NBA an enormous figure with an even wider smile. As the top pick overall in the 1992 draft, O’Neal’s combination of power, speed, agility and finesse for a big man forever changed how the center position is played. Named league MVP in 2000, there’s never been a more dominant athlete in the game than the four-time NBA champion.