LOS ANGELES — Shaquille O'Neal loves coming up with nicknames for himself, and there have been some beauties.
"The Big Havlicek," he suggested one night after uncharacteristically making a bunch of foul shots.
"The Big Felon," he said on another after making a steal and breakaway dunk with 15 seconds left to force overtime of what would become a Los Angeles Lakers victory.
Now, he has a new one.
"From this day on, I want to be known as 'The Big Aristotle,' because Aristotle once said excellence is not a singular act, it's a habit," O'Neal said with a smile Tuesday upon receiving his first NBA Most Valuable Player award. "You are what you repeatedly do."
O'Neal was repeatedly dominant this season, to the point where it was clear months ago he would be chosen the MVP, with the only question being whether he would be the first-ever unanimous selection.
He missed, by one vote.
"The first thing I did was call my mother and father," O'Neal said at the Lakers' practice facility in suburban El Segundo, where he was presented the Maurice Podoloff Trophy as the NBA's 45th MVP. "My father started crying."
A 7-foot-1, 315-pounder who led the league in scoring and field-goal percentage, O'Neal received 120 of 121 votes from a panel of sports writers and broadcasters, with the remaining vote going to Philadelphia's Allen Iverson.
O'Neal's percentage of 99.2 was the highest for any player since the league introduced the award in 1955-56. Michael Jordan received 96.5 percent of the vote four years ago.
"That was kind of hard to believe," O'Neal said. "I've always thought that Michael Jordan, Magic and Kareem and Wilt were the greatest players in the NBA."
O'Neal received 1,207 points in the voting. Minnesota's Kevin Garnett was second with 408 and Miami's Alonzo Mourning was third with 367. Iverson was seventh with 132.
"He had a tremendous, tremendous season," Lakers guard Kobe Bryant said. "He played at a high level every night."
O'Neal succeeds Utah's Karl Malone as MVP.