The Original Superman Calls It Quits – Shaq Retires
Dwight Howard may be Superman now, but he’s not the original. And back in the 90’s, not even cryptonite could stop Shaq.
Shaquille O’Neal, one of the most dominating and entertaining centers in NBA history, has announced his retirement. Never one to shy from the limelight, the star broke the news in a short video he made.
We will never see anyone like Shaq. Everyone loved him, and his impact on the league was immediate.
O’Neal was the No. 1 overall pick in 1992 draft by the Orlando Magic and he went on to a surefire Hall of Fame career that more than lived up to the expectations heaped on him during his two seasons as a star at LSU. He left Orlando as a free agent in 1996 and went on to win three championships with the Los Angeles Lakers, as well as endure a rocky relationship with teammate and fellow star Kobe Bryant.
In 2004, the duo’s power struggle resulted in O’Neal being traded to the Miami Heat, with whom he would go on to win a fourth and final title in 2006.
In addition to his collection of championship rings, O’Neal won one MVP award and three Finals MVP awards. He led the league in scoring twice and retires as the NBA’s fifth all-time leading scorer.
Over the course of his 19-year career, O’Neal also played for the Suns, Cavaliers and Celtics, with whom he played this past season, although injuries limited him. In addition, O’Neal played on the 1996 Gold medal-winning U.S. Olympic basketball team.
O’Neal, 39, was also one of the rare athletes who managed to transcend his sport. A charismatic character, his personality would grow taller than his seven-foot frame and his popularity helped him land record deals and earn starring roles in movies.
Shaq is an entertainer, period.
But let’s go back to that ’92 draft. Do you know what team had the worst record during the ’91 season, thus, mathematically having the best chance for the #1 pick? That’s right – the Minnesota Timberwolves!
Can you imagine what basketball would’ve been like back then with Shaq as our center? Other good players would’ve flocked here to play with him. The T’ Wolves would certainly have won multiple championships.
But, per our Minnesota sports luck, the ping pong balls don’t bounce right, we get pick #3, and the Christian Laettner era begins. How were the T’ Wolves supposed to know that after all those wins, big shots, and championships, at Duke – he was really just a big wuss.
I met Shaquille O’ Neal in Las Vegas once. It was a very brief encounter, but I slapped hands with him, and told him that I “bet on him” a lot. As he walked away, he pointed at me and smiled, and said,”You shouldn’t gamble young man.”
I should’ve said,”OK, if you don’t make any more cheesy movies!”
Shaq is only 39, so I’m sure we will be seeing a lot of him, in one way or another, for years to come.