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Shaquille O’Neal announces his retirement

Jun 1, 2011, 4:38 PM EDT

Miami Heat v Boston Celtics - Game Three Getty Images

UPDATE 4:38 pm: Shaq spoke with Jackie McMullin of ESPN Boston and explained his decision. It was all about health.

“I really, really thought about coming back,” he said, “but this Achilles is very damaged and if I had it done the recovery would be so long we’d have same outcome as this last year — everyone sitting around and waiting for me.

“I didn’t want to let people down two years in a row. I didn’t want to hold Boston hostage again.

“I’m letting everybody know now so Danny (Ainge) and the organization can try to get younger talent. I would love to come back, but they say once the Achilles is damaged it’s never the same. I don’t want to take that chance.”

2:58 pm: It’s not a huge surprise, but it is the sad end of an era.

Shaquille O’Neal is retiring.

In a very fitting and low-key way, the guy who always connected with the fans announced it himself on a video sent straight out to those fans through twitter.

“We did it, 19 years baby. I want to thank you very much. That’s why I’m telling you first, I’m about to retire. Love ya, talk to you soon.”

Shaq played 19 NBA seasons and had hoped to play a 20th, but his body betrayed him this past season. What looked like a routine Achilles and calf injury never healed stretched from February through the end of the playoffs, and he just couldn’t will his body to come back for one more run at one more ring.

It was that body that will have him going down as one of the great centers to ever play the game.

He was 7’1″, 325 pounds, one of the biggest and strongest men in a league of guys who won the genetic lottery. But with that came a quickness of foot, spin moves from his early days that were as good as any big man in the league. He was nimble, period. Let alone for someone who could simply power his way to the basket any time he wanted.

Shaq was the No. 1 overall pick out of LSU in 1992, taken by the fledgling Orlando Magic. He and Penny Hardaway put that franchise on the map, turning an expansion team into one of the most entertaining teams in the league, a team with real stars. They made it all the way to the NBA finals, but were never able to bring the Magic a title.

Then he bolted for the Los Angeles Lakers in a move where you can still see the scars in Orlando. But for Shaq it led to the most memorable moments of his career.

While a tempestuous relationship with Kobe Bryant led to as much drama off the court as on it, the Lakers won three-straight NBA titles from 2000 to 2002. That run included maybe the signature shot of his career, an ally-oop finish off a Bryant pass that was part of a 15-point fourth quarter comeback by the Lakers over the Portland Trail Blazers.

Shaq finally angered Lakers owner Jerry Buss to the point that when it came time to choose between him and Kobe, Shaq was sent to Miami where he teamed up with a young Dwyane Wade. Within a couple years the Miami Heat had a title, Wade leading the way and Shaq accepting a role as the secondary guy (a role his ego never let him accept with Kobe).

There went on to be stints for Shaq in Phoenix, Cleveland and finally Boston as he chased one more ring, one more run at glory. But it was not to be. In part because the body that had been so dominant for so long had started to break down, and that was a process Shaq could not stop.

But through it all, wherever he went, Shaq was loved. In an era of aloof players, he connected with people. He was like a big child still excited to play a game for a living. That’s what and why he is loved. He was an early adopter of twitter. Even last year, when he’d just show up on a park bench in Boston, people would flock to hang out with him.

He finishes with a certain place in the Hall of Fame waiting — He is a four-time NBA champion, a 15-time NBA All-Star, three-time NBA finals MVP, an NBA MVP, three-time All-Star MVP. He was the most dominant player of his generation (he would argue ever).

He will be missed. The era has ended.

  1. southbeachtalent - Jun 1, 2011 at 3:08 PM

    Shaq Attack!!!

    I can still vividly remember him shattering back boards!!!! Getting alley-oops from Penny, blocking shots from every direction!

    His rap album wasn’t bad either “SHAQ DIESEL”… I GIGGED ON YOU! (I think I still have it somewhere)

    And he did bring us our first championship!

    He was truly a FREAK!!

    • liltmac2003 - Jun 1, 2011 at 5:43 PM

      Truly an end of an era.

      Ever since I started to watch the NBA, Shaq was always a part of it. He was also dominant throughout his career, if you scratch off the injuries towards the end.

      He was funny, generous, and always came up with SHAQ-ified words.

      Even though he’s retired, I don’t think this is the last time I’ll hear about him. I still expect him to be a big part of the NBA.

  2. SmackSaw - Jun 1, 2011 at 3:27 PM

    The Big AARP

  3. icu84bs - Jun 1, 2011 at 3:42 PM

    One of the ‘biggest’ things about Shaq was his generosity. Few people have generated as much charitable revenue for so many good causes.

    We will miss you BIG fella………

  4. florida727 - Jun 1, 2011 at 3:43 PM

    26.7 points per game during his peak years, and 12 rebounds per game. In the playoffs, against better competition remember, 24.3 and 11.6 on 53%+ shooting.

    His best statistic?

    $292+ million in earnings… that’s just ON the basketball court.

    I’m not a big Shaq fan, but you have to give him his due. Well done big man…

  5. jpmelon - Jun 1, 2011 at 3:44 PM

    damn. I remember seeing him on the cover of Tough Stuff (trading cards magazine) back when I was in elementary school. I’m 2 years shy of 30 now. What a career.

  6. dgforreal - Jun 1, 2011 at 3:56 PM

    Congratulations on a wonderful career, get healthy and enjoy the rest of your life man.

    • dgforreal - Jun 1, 2011 at 5:02 PM

      The 2 people who thumbed downed my comment know how Shaq’s ass tastes.

  7. loungefly74 - Jun 1, 2011 at 3:59 PM

    what a fool i was thinking christian laettner deserved that olympic spot over shaq…anyway, always loved shaq. he helped bring 3 rings to my Lakers. for that, i am forever loyal to the big aristotle. i hope shaq stays in the limelight doing whatever he wants to do. shaq, you will be missed.

  8. truprof - Jun 1, 2011 at 4:10 PM

    What? No ESPN special? No 60 minute countdown to “The Decision”?

    Well done, Shaq! Your well deserved place among the pantheon of all-time greats is secure.
    BTW, some of your peers could use a few lessons in public relations from Shaq-Fu, the Master!

  9. mogogo1 - Jun 1, 2011 at 4:46 PM

    Three cheers for Shaq. One of the most physically dominant players ever, along with one of the most charismatic. I don’t see anything to be sad about. He’s got all the money in the world and plenty of time now to enjoy it. And he’s been a shadow of himself for the past couple years, constantly hurt and not seeming to enjoy the game as much as he used to. Retirement looks pretty darn good for him.

  10. kwlee1971 - Jun 1, 2011 at 4:53 PM

    One thing that I love about Shaq, aside from his basketball skills, was the fact that he was fun guy, both on the court and off the court. My wife and I just saw ‘Scary Movie 4″ on DVD and you gotta check out Shaq in this movie!!! He is hilarious!!!

    It’s stuff like the ability to make fun of himself that that make him larger than life! :-)

  11. randysavage4ever - Jun 1, 2011 at 5:03 PM

    Just remember the league has to MAKE UP A RULE because his drop step was so DOMINANT – they had to call it dislodging. Thats how crucial his drop step was, they had to make a rule to disallow it because if they called it fair SHAQ would foul out the entire opponents front line in the 1st 10 minutes!

    Also NEON FROM BLUE CHIPS – LOVE THAT MOVIE – ALGIERS?!!! – thanks nick nolte…

    Also thanks SHAQ – he brought miami a title with a team with Zo, Payton, jason williams, antoine walker – and alotta players who got a ring that year who desearved it…

    ALSO – Shaq Orlando team that eliminated Jordans come back year in 95… had to be a good team if they beat Jordan & the Bulls…

    We will never see a shaq again AT ALL – not with physical attributes, coordination, skill, & off court personality… all in 1 – ONE HECK OF A MAN!

    last of an era, of a CLOTH , Biggie, the 90’s, SHAQ FU, movies, kobe, penny, dwade, I mean…

    list goes on and on about what shaq has done & his true meaning to basketball – love u man!

  12. maspc467 - Jun 1, 2011 at 5:13 PM

    As an LSU student in 1990-91 who watched him play, I know he was awesome on the court ( I watched him lead fast breaks off rebounds right down the center of the court as the world’s biggest point guard), and perhaps more importantly, he was by all reports a genuinely decent man off the court.

    I hope he goes on to a productive career in law enforcement as Sheriff Shaq!!

  13. zrbk - Jun 1, 2011 at 5:25 PM

    Good job Shaq. You’ve been one of the most legendary big men to ever play the game. You were so awesome that the league had to create a rule to stop you from dominating every single game in the paint. At your peak, no single man could have stopped the Big Aristotle from scoring. Even until this January, you were a threatening force leading the Celtics to another championship … Unfortunately, everything had to end this way. We will always remember your shoe phone and shoe car.

  14. goforthanddie - Jun 1, 2011 at 7:22 PM

    Good to see someone admit their body gave up, instead of milk it. Shame it has to be Shaq 😦

  15. coltsfanindc - Jun 1, 2011 at 8:31 PM

    thanks trugoof, I mean truprof. cuz it wouldn’t be a sports posting w/o a little lebron bashing.

    i liked shaq. he had a great career. and im grateful he helped my heat win a title(same week i got married that year. what a year!) but he got away w/ an awful lot. hypocritical comments about kobe(and im not a kobe fan so it pains me to defend him), off color comments, and the Heat threw him a parade in 04 where he guaranteed a championship.

    But it all went w/o major criticism because everyone loved him. Take that as a lesson LeBron….win the crowd, and u can do what u want.

    Anyway, great career, Sha-killlllllllll-O’Neeeeaallllllll

  16. 00maltliquor - Jun 2, 2011 at 6:37 AM

    Thanks for all the memories, Diesel. I’ll never forget praying to God every breakfast, lunch, and dinner, before i went to bed and especially as soon as i woke up before i ran outside to go get the newspapers sports section that you would sign with my beloved Lakers. I’ll never ever forget that days sports page, felt better then a Christmas morning waking up to a ton of presents. Truly one of my favorite and most memorable childhood memories. Caaan yooou dig iiiiiiit! Hope you heal and enjoy the rest of your life. (And i’ll try to erase the memory of you ending your career in a damn Celtic green jersey!!)

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