Shaquille O’Neal has always had a great connection with the fans. So it should be little surprise that when The Diesel decided to retire he informed the fans first. On Wednesday, Shaq released a video via his Twitter account announcing that he was hanging up his size 23’s after 19 seasons in the NBA.
“We did it. 19 years, baby. I want to thank you very much. That’s why I’m telling you first that I’m about to retire.”
There had been some talk about whether he would call it quits this summer. Boston Celtics’ general manager Danny Ainge said he expected O’Neal would retire. Shaq’s mother thought her son might come back for one more year. In recent seasons, O’Neal was a shadow of the player who dominated the paint for a decade and a half. This past year, injuries limited him to just 37 games with the Celtics.
In his prime, the league hadn’t seen anything like O’Neal – a player with enormous size who also had the kind of quickness and explosiveness of a smaller man. From his Rookie of the Year campaign in 1992-93 through his final championship run in 2006 with the Miami Heat, Shaq was the NBA’s most dominant post player. During his title runs with the Lakers, he teamed up with Kobe Bryant to form one of the most unstoppable duo’s in NBA history.
If there was one thing larger than Shaq’s physical presence, it may have been his personality. From his sideline as a rapper and actor to his turn as an undercover police officer to dancing with the Jabbawockeez at the 2009 All-Star Game, O’Neal always found a way to intrigue and entertain fans unlike many athletes before or since; his retirement will leave a large empty space in the league, both literally and figuratively. With a resume about as long as one of his prodigious arms, the biggest accolade left for The Big Hall of Famer is a bust in Springfield.