Shaquille O’Neal has hung up his sneakers for the final time as he decided to call it a career and has retired from playing in the NBA after 19 seasons. “Shaq-Diesel” was the most dominant player in the Association at his peak and leaves the NBA with four Championship rings; three with the Los Angeles Lakers as well as winning his final NBA Title with the Miami Heat in 2006. O’Neal was truly larger than life both on and off the court as he was known as well for his sense of humor and his intellect as he was for his talents on the hardwood. What other player in the history of the Association would refer to himself as the “Great Aristotle” ?
Shaquille took advantage of the opportunities that his talent gave him as he would branch out into rapping, making movies and starred in a summer reality TV show. He also developed an interest in law-enforcement and was made a deputy sheriff in several counties across the nation. He was the “Renaissance Man” of the Association; after signing with the Boston Celtics he went to check out Harvard Yard exploring the campus bookshop and charming all he came in contact with.
Unfortunately O’Neal played in an era in the NBA that lacked other great centers. When he was drafted by the Orlando Magic with the first pick in the 1992 NBA Draft the hope was that a rivalry would develop between he and Alonzo Mourning but injuries and health issues with Mourning precluded that from occurring. It would have been great to watch Alonzo and Shaquille become the Russell and Chamberlain of their era but it was not meant to be.
It certainly did not come to a shock to NBA observers when O’Neal announced his retirement earlier this week as injuries have hindered him throughout the last few years. However his out-sized personality will be missed in the Association; both on and off the hardwood.