Date of Birth: 3/6/1972
Rookie Card Year: 1992-93
Investment Rating: 9.0
Shaquille O'Neal had a rare combination of dominant on-court ability and an engaging and fun-loving off-court personality. This combination endeared Shaq to fans and collectors alike. When he burst onto the NBA scene, collectors took notice immediately and the chase for Shaquille O'Neal cards pushed products to record high values. Although the values have since leveled off, there is still a special place in basketball collecting for O'Neal and his particular brand of play.
Shaquille O'Neal's NBA licensed rookie cards, of which he has seven, all hail from 1992-93 products. However, it was the small Classic company that was able to secure Shaq's first autographed card. The company signed O'Neal to an exclusive autograph deal in the short window that existed between the end of his NCAA eligibility and the NBA Draft. These cards can be found in 1992 Classic Draft and 1992 Classic Gold Draft. As a result, they command top dollar and are treated by collectors as autographed rookie cards, but technically do not qualify to be categorized as such.
See also: Ultimate Shaquille O'Neal Rookie Card Checklist and Gallery
Shaquille O'Neal Rookie Card Checklist
1992-93 Fleer Basketball Shaquille O'Neal RC #401
A dark time, indeed, for card design. The matted colors and gold border do not do Shaq justice. However, it is interesting to see a standing image of Shaq and see how skinny he used to be.
1992-93 Fleer Ultra Basketball Shaquille O'Neal RC #328
The Ultra card definitely took a chance at being different and the gold foil gave the card a distinct look. The faux-marble design on the bottom seems out of place.
1992-93 NBA Hoops Basketball Shaquille O'Neal RC #442
The Hoops card shows a classic two-handed Shaq dunk that would become a trademark of his career. The crisp white border flows decently and makes it easy to spot wear and tear.
1992-93 SkyBox Basketball Shaquille O'Neal RC #382 (SP)
The first of two short prints, the SkyBox card wins the award for most color based on the seemingly pointless and somewhat transparent red background that engulfs the top half of the card.
1992-93 Topps Basketball Shaquille O'Neal RC #362
Another full-length shot with a white border, this card suffers from a pixellated image that greatly cheapens the look of the card. Be on the lookout for the short-printed Topps Gold parallel of this card, which is one of the most underrated (and undervalued) of all Shaquille O'Neal cards.
1992-93 Topps Stadium Club Basketball Shaquille O'Neal RC #247
Another plain card that is given a little character with an interesting image. One wonders if Shaq plans to dunk the ball or eat it.
1992-93 Upper Deck Basketball Shaquille O'Neal RC #1 (SP)
The cream of the crop, the Upper Deck card is one that collectors seek most fiercely. It also maintains the highest value of the group. It showcased the only non-game image used on a Shaquille O'Neal rookie card, featuring him at three separate points as he progresses through a dunk. Adding to the appeal is the fact that this is one of Shaq's few short-printed rookie cards.
Shaquille O'Neal Autographed Memorabilia Buying Guide
Below you will find an example of what Shaquille O'Neal's authentic signature looks like. This can be used as a first point of reference for determining the legitimacy of autograph memorabilia, but is not a substitute for having your items authenticated by a well-respected professional autograph authentication company. Reputable authentication companies include JSA, PSA, Panini Authentic and Mounted Memories to name a few.
Shaquille O'Neal Cut Signature Exemplar
Shaquille O'Neal Key Signature Attributes: An authentic Shaquille O'Neal signature autograph will exhibit several distinguishing characteristics, depending on when in his career the item was signed. Other characteristics that play into his signature style are the particular item and venue. Look for the following signature features:
- The entire signature is largely indecipherable and instead, collectors should look for character traits and not specific letters.
- A small triangle-shaped character starts the signature with a long extending line on about a 45-degree angle over and past the length of the entire autograph.
- The second line of the triangle is much shorter and curves away from the first line towards its end; picture a printed "J" at the end of the shorter line.
- A figure "8" type character with the top loop flattened, follows.
- Finishing the signature is a fish-hook-shaped line on its side.
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