All told, this was a pretty low-key way for one of the NBA's biggest personalities to announce the end of one of the league's great careers. Shaquille O'Neal, who played on four NBA championship-winning teams, won three Finals MVP, one league MVP, and currently stands as pro basketball's seventh all-time leading scorer, 13th-best rebounder, and eighth-best shot blocker, announced he's retiring today - and did it via a simple tweet and video:
In the video, Shaq simply thanks his fans for their support (hence, why he gave them the scoop via Twitter). In truth, it was time for this - and maybe has been for a couple years now. Shaq just can't hold up to the rigors of an NBA season anymore - he missed over half of this past season with the Celtics, and missed 29 games for the Cavaliers the year before that. And when he could play, his effectiveness was drastically down (not that that wouldn't be expected of a 39-year-old).
But when he was in his prime, he dominated like few ever have. If he didn't have quite the single-minded competitive streak of Michael Jordan or Bill Russell (and really, no one else but those two ever has), he worked enough at developing his game so that he utterly destroyed the NBA for the better part of those three Laker championship seasons. In both the 2000 and 2001 playoffs, he averaged over 30 points and 15 rebounds per game. Three times he averaged over 29 per game during the regular season.
One could spend an awfully long time listing all of Shaq's accomplishments, so we'll leave it at this: the guy was spectacular at his best, and would go to great lengths to entertain (Kazaam notwithstanding). For just a couple examples, check him out lip-syncing "Jessie's Girl" with puppets, and pretty much his entire Twitter account. Give the guy this: he can be pretty funny.
And that's why, even though the time was right for him to walk away, he'll be missed. He was a larger-than-life figure who played like it, and there's definitely a large (in more ways than one) void in the NBA. We wish Shaq the best, and for a reminder of just what he was capable of in his prime, watch this.
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