After a whopping nineteen seasons, the journeyman NBA center has decided to hang up his size 19s and retire at the ripe old age of 39. The bigger news, though, is that he publicly announced his retirement online, via a video site called Tout. The video itself is short and to-the-point, at least it isn't all self-serving like some celebrities would do.
While Shaq probably isn't the best player to ever hit the hardwood, he was a force to be reckoned with. I remember him as being nothing less than dominant in his first years with the Orlando Magic. He dunked like nobody's business, was a wretched free-throw shooter and broke the glass on more than one NBA backboard (I remember one shattering in Salt Lake City during an early 1990s game vs. the Utah Jazz).
But the giant of a man had a dream. He wanted to win championships. And with a move to the Los Angeles Lakers he did just that. I'll admit to the NBA sort of falling off my radar after about 1997 but I know he stuck around there and made the Lakers the dominant team in the NBA's western conference. And, yes, he won championships.
It still wasn't enough, though. He obviously loved playing and loved the money. But he was never the center of ugly contract disputes or highly publicized trades (I'm looking at YOU LeBron James, fucking jackass). He followed the money, played his role as a lane blocking center and chased the championship ring. He played for the Phoenix Suns and the Miami Heat if my memory serves me before landing for what would become his retirement home of sorts in Boston with the Celtics.
He even blames himself for his injuries (now career-ending) for the Boston Celtics not making it to this year's NBA finals. Others, I'm sure, would be thumping their chests and blaming their teammates for not rallying in their absence and carrying the load but Shaq, for whatever it's worth, sounded legitimately disappointed to have missed much of this season and claims to love his new hometown of Boston. Sure, Shaq is a multi-millionaire but he's a sort of quietly funny personality. Arrogant pricks and fame-whores like LeBron James, Alex Rodriguez and their ilk could learn a lesson from this giant of the game.