Yeah, Shaq’s retiring. The 19 year old veteran, the oldest player in the NBA this past season, played his final game against the Miami Heat in the conference Semi Final series. Those were 8 uneventful minutes, but I think most people knew that when Shaq hobbled off the court again, a familiar site this season and in throughout his career, it was for good. The quest for the fifth ring, just like Kobe, has its limits.
O’Neal played only 37 games this season, averaging 20.3 minutes a night with 9.2 points and 4.8 rebounds. In the playoffs? He played a total of 12 minutes in these playoffs. There’s a limit to a chase, and Shaquille, gradually fading away from the ‘Most dominant ever’, couldn’t play anymore with his aching body and the grandeur that passed a few years ago. Not anymore.
O’Neal was never one of my favorite players. I always preferred David Robinson and Olajuwon during the mid-90’s. I was never a huge Lakers fan. Still, having Shaquille around was great. Be it for the ‘funny-man’ reasons, be it for pure basketball reasons. The way he dominated during the early 00’s, those finals against the Pacers-Sixers-Nets. His MVP season, his three Finals MVPs. His first season in Miami was actually my favorite. He deserved the MVP, not Nash. He was a little bit older, a little bit weaker, but still, 22.9 points and 10.4 rebounds a night, making Miami a legitimate contender and a year later a first time champion, he got tons of points in my personal stock market.
What came after? You never like watching someone who used to be as dominant as Shaq was for quite a while reduced to a good center, than a decent starter, than a hole-filler for the Cavs and Celtics. His Suns period? He wasn’t injured as usual, he averaged nearly 18 points and 8.4 rebounds, but you felt it was off. That title building attempt crashed, like the next one and the next.
Shaquille always made things interesting. If it was breaking baskets, his Kobe Bryant feuding and in general, being the funniest guy in the league, maybe in history. Yeah, there were the bad movies, bad rapping, TV Shows, Jackass appearances and whatever. I didn’t like those. Too much for me, and I guess a lot more of you guys. But he did give us this, Shaq’s best non basketball moment.
Accolades – 4 NBA Titles, 3 Finals MVPs, one MVP, 1993 Rookie of the year, 15 time All-Star, two time scoring champion, 8 time All-NBA first team. 7th On the NBA’s all time scoring list, 13th on rebounds and 8th on blocks. Career averages 23.7 points and 10.9 rebounds, 2.3 blocks per game, 58.2% from the field. Fourth on Sportige.com’s greatest centers of all time.
Shaq’s career has had its downs and darker sides, times. His ability to cause destruction around him, on his own team, especially when he leaves them and then trashes everyone isn’t the most popular of personality traits. The Godfather comparison was funny, true, but cruel, and kind of evil. When it comes from a power position, it doesn’t make you stronger.
It’s sad to see Shaq leave the game. Thank god he’ll have plenty of time for twitter now. Sad to see such a charismatic figure leave the NBA. It’s not so much the player, because as we’ve said before, O’Neal hasn’t been superstarish for a few years now. Nevertheless, the league is a bit more boring with him finally gone.