Shaquille O’Neal retires
June 1, 2011 Leave a comment
14-time All-Star and former NBA MVP center Shaquille O’Neal announced his retirement over the social media video messaging site Tout (ESPN Link). O’Neal, who most recently played for the Boston Celtics, had been battling a series of injuries late in his career, including an Achilles injury that held him out of action in this year’s playoffs.
O’Neal won four NBA championships in his career (three with the Los Angeles Lakers and one with the Miami Heat) and scored 28,596 points during his stellar career.He made a name for himself in his three standout season playing for LSU and was number one overall pick by the Orlando Magic in 1992. Teaming up with Anfernee “Penny” Hardaway early in his career, O’Neal established himself as a star inside that could battle with the likes of established stars Hakeem Olajuwon, Patrick Ewing and David Robinson.
After appearing in four All-Star games in his first four seasons, O’Neal forced his way out of Orlando and was traded to the Los Angeles Lakers, forming one of the most dominate teams of the late 90’s and early 2000’s with Kobe Bryant. However, O’Neal and Bryant shared a very tumultuous relationship and it was commonly believed that the tension between the two led to O’Neal’s eventual trade to the Miami Heat before the 2004-05 season, even though the tandem had won three championships together.
Alongside Dwayne Wade in Miami, O’Neal took home what would be his fourth and final championship in 2005-06. The Heat were trailing the Dallas Mavericks two games to none when the Heat completed a massive Game 3 comeback and won the remaining four games. After the championship season, O’Neal began to experience a series of medical maladies that shortchanged his seasons. He played only 40 games in his final full season with Miami and 61 total between Miami and Phoenix the next season. O’Neal would finish his career bouncing between the Suns, Cleveland Cavaliers and most recently the Boston Celtics.
Arguably O’Neal had his best season in 1999-00, the year he won his only Most Valuable Player award. O’Neal played a career-high 79 games and averaged 29.7 points, 13.6 rebounds and 239 blocks. For his career, O’Neal averaged 24.7 points and 11.2 rebounds and is a lock to be elected to the NBA Hall of Fame.
Shaq is one of the biggest personalities to ever set foot on an NBA court. Before Chad Ochocinqo, Shaq was calling himself Diesel, Superman, Shaqtus, and the Big Shamrock, among others. He is also one of the most dynamic centers to every play the game. Shaq was the first to introduce the new wave of athletic big men coming into the NBA. Unlike Robinson, Ewing and Olajuwon, Shaq was more athletic and dominating inside against older opponents. He was the bridge between the old school, back-to-the-basket center and the new school, perimeter style center along with Tim Duncan. No player in the NBA today can match the dominate inside defense and power-scoring offense that O’Neal mastered, and that includes Dwight Howard.
It is safe to say that the NBA is unlikely to see a talent that is as charismatic and dominating as Shaquille O’Neal was in his prime.
Greg Kaplan is a writer and co-founder of Home Field Advantage