NBA > Shaquille O’Neal Announces Retirement

~ Shaquille O’Neal is reportedly calling it a career. The 7’1 325 pounder with an endless amount of nicknames that all suited him well, has recently announced he is about to retire. O’Neal wraps up a 19 year NBA career that will eventually lead him to the Hall of Fame as one of the greatest players to ever play the game of basketball.

I’ve watched the NBA since 1985 and in that time I’ve seen a handful of great big men who had dominant seasons. Not 3 or 4 years in a row of dominant seasons, however they had seasons where they clearly were the dominant big man for that season. O’Neal was the dominant big man in the league for  consecutive seasons. For at least 15 of those 19 seasons, he was the most intimidating force in the league.

Hakeem Olajuwon, David Robinson, and Patrick Ewing were all great big men in the league. No big man the size of Shaquille O’Neal could run the floor like he could in his prime. If the ball went to O’Neal down low into the paint, it was most likely going to end up with a “Shaq Attack” slam dunk. Occasionally these Shaq Attacks led to broken rims and shattered backboards. The fans loved it, the league needed it.

He injected a much need shot in the arm for the NBA in 1992 when he was drafted number 1 by the Orlando Magic. The league was in a transition mode with Magic Johnson and Larry Bird on the way out. 15 All Star appearances and 3 Finals MVP award’s later, Shaq goes out on his terms.

The backend of O’Neal’s career was not as strong or anywhere near as dominant as the Shaq we all came to know from watching him with Orlando and the Lakers. He went to Miami and helped Dwyane Wade win a championship. It wasn’t quite the same O’Neal, however his presence on the court could change the opposing team’s gameplan. That is what put him into that elite group of superstars … he had presence.

His presence on the court opened the door to his presence off the court taking him to celebrity status. The league will not be the same without Shaq.

I’ve read online how some are saying he leaves the game on a sad note. I don’t think that is anywhere near being the case. He’s leaving on his own terms. He’s not being forced to leave the game. As a basketball fan, I’m proud to be able to say I saw one of the greatest players in the leagues history play the game, dominate the game, and transcend the game.

Congratulations Shaquille O’Neal on 19 years in the NBA. The Hall of Fame Awaits You.

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