Injuries had taken their toll on the most dominant big man of the era.
Once one of the most dominant big men to play the game, Shaquille O’Neal had become a shell of his former self the past couple seasons.
This last one, his one and only with the Boston Celtics, was perhaps his most frustrating in his 19 seasons. An achilles injured dogged him during the last half of the season, perhaps leading to Wednesday’s surprise retirement announcement by the Big Diesel.
There was no emotional press conference to announce the ending of a career in which O’Neal led two different franchises to NBA titles and three different teams to the NBA finals. O’Neal posted a video on the social media site Tout announcing he was calling it a career as the camera shifted from his out of control beard to the sunset.
"We did it. Nineteen years baby," he said. "I want to thank you very much, that's why I'm telling you first, I'm about to retire. Thank you, talk to you soon."
One can only wonder where O’Neal will end up next. Maybe he will settle into his long talked about desire to enter law enforcement. Maybe he will go the way of Charles Barkley and Chris Webber as a no-holds barred NBA television analyst.
What is for sure is that he certainly left his mark on the game, despite two less than stellar seasons with the Cleveland Cavaliers and Celtics to wind down his career. O’Neal leaves the game with four NBA titles (three with the Los Angeles Lakers, one with the Miami Heat), 15 All-Star appearances, one MVP and three NBA finals MVPs.
He is also fifth all-time on the NBA's list for career points (28,596) and 12th in total rebounds (13,099).
(Photo: AP Photo/Kevork Djansezian, File)