COMMENTARY | Legendary NBA champion Shaquille O’Neal informed his fans online that he will retire from the league after 19 years, the Associated Press reports. Most fans of the sport have their own memories of O’Neal, from pulling down the backboard with Orlando to winning titles in Los Angeles before feuding with Kobe Bryant to being a entertainer in music and movies. I remember collecting his rookie cards when he was first drafted by the Magic. I wish I knew where those cards were, so I can make some extra cash now.
The way he did it
The one thing I like about his “decision” (yeah, I called it that, LeBron) was how he did it. He wanted to let his fans and those who have been behind him since day one know about it first by announcing on Twitter. Instead of being traditional and announcing or having the team announce a press conference without saying why, O’Neal told his fans before the media. It was a nice way of ending a career by showing the fans that he really did care about them. During an ESPN interview, O’Neal said he would hold an official press conference June 3 at his home. He did it backwards, but it worked.
He was the best talker
O’Neal will always be known as one of the 10 best players in NBA history. His retirement means that someone else would need to step up and be the voice. O’Neal is almost as popular and famous for his quotes as he is for his status on the court.
Everybody you ask would have their own favorite O’Neal quotes. Here are a few of mine. When he joined the Phoenix Suns, O’Neal said, “The Big Cactus — because if you come too close, you’re gonna get stuck.” From that quote, the new nickname of the Shaqtus was born.
Another good quote from the Shaqtus was about his sponsorship opportunities. “I endorse only products I actually use. Like Wheaties keeps offering me money, but I don’t eat Wheaties, so I can’t do it. Now, if Rice Krispies or Frosted Flakes offered me a deal, I’d take it right away. Apple Jacks, I’d be on the box in a heartbeat. Apple Shaqs. Yeah.”
O’Neal was a character and will always be remembered as one. Who could forget when he would make light of his lack of talent at the free throw line? He knew he was bad, and he reminded us how bad he was.
He was one of the best big men
It was hard to look at someone with O’Neal’s size and not be in awe of how dominating of a player he was. Even recently, we’ve seen a big man like Yao Ming struggle to stay on the court with injuries. It wasn’t until the later part of his career that Shaq struggled with injuries. It’s hard to argue with the success. When your name will forever be mentioned with the likes of Michael Jordan, Wilt Chamberlin, Karl Malone and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, you’ve done alright for yourself.
Good luck, Shaq!