There was no press conference. No tears flowing to mark
the end of a remarkable career. Shaquille O'Neal once again did things
his way. He announced his retirement via Twitter to his 3.8 million
The Big Aristotle, Big Leprechaun, Big Cactus, and the biggest thing
the NBA has ever seen, is done after 19 great years in the league. It
will be a long time before we, or the NBA sees a guy like Shaq again.
He was 7'1" and 325 pounds of pure entertainment. He was thoughtful,
funny, and quick to produce a million memorable quotes.
When he was in Los Angeles working in the triangle offense created
by Tex Winter, he said, "Our offense is like the Pythagorean Theorem.
There is no answer." Classic. Or the time he was asked about his problems
with shooting foul shots, "Me shooting 40% from the line is God's way
of saying that nobody's perfect." Another good one from Superman, "I'm
tired of hearing about money, money, money. I just want to play basketball,
drink Pepsi, and wear Reebok."
Shaq may not have been the perfect player but he was one of the most
dominant athletes the game has ever seen. When he arrived in the NBA
as a 20-year old rookie out of LSU in 1992, Shaq was a physical freak.
There had never been anyone that big, that fast, and that strong. Not
even Wilt Chamberlain. The Big Diesel scored 28, 596 points in his
career, which ranks 7th all-time.
But Shaq won't be remembered for his stats. He'll be remembered for
his love and passion for life and the game. He never considered himself
to be bigger than the sport or the people who adored him. Who can forget
him showing up at Harvard Square to pose as a statue, taking pictures with
the fans around him? I'll never forget watching him conduct the Boston Pops
in a Tuxedo complete with tails. How bout the dance Shaq did during the
All-Star game introductions in Atlanta? Yes, Shaq loved the camera just as
much as the camera loved him. ABC gave him his own show, "Shaq versus",
where he challenged everyone from NASCAR drivers to race horses.
Shaq created his own reality show in the NBA and it could've been
called "Shaq versus Kobe". Once great teammates in Los Angeles,
their relationship fractured in the media spotlight. Tinseltown wasn't
big enough for both of them, so Shaq migrated to South Beach and
led the Heat to an NBA title. A short time later, he said that Kobe could
"kiss his ass". Fans loved it. But Kobe got his revenge, and served it
up cold to the Big Shamrock after winning his fifth NBA title. "That's
one more than Shaq and you can take that to the bank."
They may never be good friends again, but Kobe and Shaq do have
a great respect for each other. We haven't heard the last of the Big
Daddy. He's too much of an entertainer to go away for good. There
will be a Hall of Fame speech and perhaps, an appearance on "Dancing
with the Stars". The Diesel's NBA tank has run dry, but I have a feeling
his entertainment drum is still very much full.