Say Goodbye To One Of The Greats: Shaq To Retire

Darius Soriano —  June 1, 2011

In a move that was classicly Shaq, the Big Everything issued a statement via his twitter account that simply said, “I’m retiring” with a link to a video making it official.

There will be much more analysis to come and I’m sure many tributes (as well as those that would like to criticize) the big man’s career. I, however, have nothing but love for the big man that came to the Lakers as a free agent in 1996, joined forces with a rookie Kobe Bryant, and brought the Lakers three consecutive championships and four trips to the NBA Finals during his tenure. His time with the team wasn’t always smooth and things certainly didn’t end well, but the memories of those good times last forever.

And speaking of memories, enjoy this clip of highlights from Shaq’s career. His dominance was something that we may never see from a big man ever again. His combination of size, strength, quickness, and overall athleticism made him a monster that none could handle when at his peak. He was truly one of a kind. I’ll miss you, big fella.

Darius Soriano

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51 responses to Say Goodbye To One Of The Greats: Shaq To Retire

  1. Shaq was a great one, no doubt. Rather than look back on what could have been had he and Kobe been able to play nice, let’s remember his contributions to a great era in Lakers’ basketball.

    It makes me sad to think that one of the early 2000s-era Sacramento Queens, as Shaq dubbed them, will get a ring this year. Would have befit that team’s legacy to see none of its key players take home the top prize. Oh well. We’ll always have this:

  2. Get #34 ready for the rafters

  3. smoothaswilkes June 1, 2011 at 12:51 pm

    Possibly the most dominant big man ever. (I never saw Wilt or Russell play)

    This video should be required viewing for Bynum and Gasol. Shaq wanted to dunk every time he touched the ball… with ferocity. Something our bigs seem to lack most of the time.

    Shaq we’ll miss ya. Good luck in your future endeavors.

    Go Lakers!

  4. Watching this video is a nostalgic trip back to great memories and a melancholy thought of what really could have been.

    The Big Fella took us on quite a ride.

    As an aside, hearing about this news made me visit the hall of fame’s website. While browsing, I found out that some hall of famers (including Magic and Kareem) are accepting mail from fans. Check it out:

  5. Does anyone remember the Shaq dunk on Chris Dudley? This was back when Kobe had his half-fro. I remember watching this live and absolutely loving it because Dudley was one of those players that got under the skin of other players, and he was fiesty with Shaq during that game.

  6. never a dull moment! we’ll miss ya! (and the 3 other rings we could have gotten if you, pj and kb could have worked it out!)

  7. watching this video makes me wonder how shaq got only one mvp along with kobe. but after thinking about it, it makes perfect since they each killed the others chance to get mvp because to me from 00-04 they were basically the top 2 or 3 players in the league.

  8. @7

    I may get flack for this, but I always thought Steve Nash got over on Kobe and Shaq in the MVP department. Shaq should have been MVP in 2004-2005. And Kobe should have been MVP in 2005-2006. The fact both of those players only have one MVP apiece is a huge black eye on the award.

  9. The Big Fella had speed, spin move, strength. His comments made me laugh. I never forgot the day Shaq came to LA, we were so happy to see him having his first ring. I believe the NBA change to zone defense to stop Shaq, people was jealous with Lakers. Best wishes to him.

  10. @smoothaswilkes,

    While I agree that Bynum and Gasol could use a little bit of Shaq’s aggressiveness, what they miss–and precisely what Shaq always had–isn’t so much aggressiveness as attitude. Shaq always had that swagger, part of which was comical no doubt (and towards the end it was mostly sound and fury), but it was swagger nonetheless.

    I love both Bynum and Gasol. They may be key parts of any future championship puzzle. But neither of them have attitude, and they’re oftentimes downright boring. What you notice watching the above video is that Shaq’s smiling and mugging his way through highlight after highlight. Man, those days were fun.

    Is it wrong to say I’m secretly hoping that Dwight Howard might someday bring back some of this swag–and with it, a little bling? Hope not…

  11. I was never a huge fan of Shaq because he was never as committed to the game as I wanted him to be. That’s probably not fair – it’s not like I never take time off when I could/should be working – but that was always my problem with him.

    Still, the man was a force to be reckoned with and we don’t win 00-03 without him.

    I hope they don’t wait too long to retire his number. We should see 34 right next to 32 and 33 in the rafters.

  12. Much Respect to Shaq Diesel, arguably, the Most Dominant Individual to ever grace the Hardwood Floors. Size, Power, Speed, Athleticism, B-Ball IQ and Charisma that, more than likely, we’ll never witness again. So Unguardable/Unstoppable during that run, that the League had no choice but to Implement a Zone Defense as its only recourse in order to slow Shaq down (Hack a Shaq wasn’t cutting it). The Focal Point and Leader of our Championship Journeys, in which there was only 1 word to describe ‘The Big Fella’ : Irreplaceable. In regards to our Lakers, could it have ended better? Of course it could’ve, but the Positives so outweighed the Negatives that it isn’t even debateable about his Jersey being ascended to the rafters. Thank U Shaq for all the memories (Good and Bad). You’re truly an Iconic Figure n Lakers Lore.

  13. Wait, where are all the Suns, Cavs, and Celtics Shaq highlights? :-P.

    In all seriousness, that video just shows how much of a monster Shaq was in his prime. Seriously, if you had to form a basketball team to save the planet from imminent destruction via a game of basketball (like Mortal Kombat), and you could choose any player from any year, isn’t the 2nd player you choose 99-00 Shaq? (1st is 95-96 MJ, cause that’s the year he similarly saved the Looney Tune world from destruction) His combination of quickness and power will probably never be seen again. He makes guys like Dwight Howard and Andrew Bynum look small and slow by comparison, which really isn’t a slight at either of those guys; just further evidence of the greatness of Shaq in his prime.

  14. Sharky towers June 1, 2011 at 3:01 pm

    11- Matt, don’t be so hard on yourself about taking time off… Unless of course you get paid tens of million if dollars to play a kids game, but cant be bothered to stay in shape.

    I appreciated Shaquille for his contributions to my fav team, but I was always a little conflicted rooting for what he brought to the table in a greater basketball sense.

  15. Big ups to Shaq, the most dominant big man I’ve ever seen. He brought us three championships, countless laughs, and a historic run of Lakers basketball. You did good big fella.

  16. haha Shaq was so much fun to watch. I became a Lakers fan in those “Lakeshow” days when Shaq was truly something to witness. His game winning block on Cuttino Mobley where he just walks into the crowd and starts swinging his arm hi-fiving the fans was classic stuff. I thought he was gonna clock somebody.

  17. I love Dwight Howard but he should literally call himself Superman-lite because he was nowhere near as dominant as Shaq was in his prime.

    We will never see another Shaq again, he was basically a bear playing basketball.

  18. Big ups to the man with so many nicknames, you couldnt remember them all. The always smiling and laidback demeanor off the court, he was a killah on the court. Waited too long to hang em up, but what other job could a 7 foot tall man get paid that kind of money.

  19. Shaq was a real center. He was a monster in the pivot. His game was back to the basket. Guys like that just don’t seem to be very common anymore. As good as Dwight Howard is now he wouldn’t hold a candle to prime Shaq. Shaq was bigger and more agile. Remember how quick Shaq would go into his spin move?

    Unfortunately, today’s centers are either not as big and strong, or their bodies just can’t hold up. We may never see another Shaquille O’Neal.

  20. The thing I miss most about The Diesel is his pure strength. It was basically over once he got into his crouch.

    These days, Pau or Andrew catch it that deep and I find myself hoping they dunk it. But instead its a layup or a botched layup.

    Shaq will be missed, true lakers fans will forget that he ever joined the enemy in green.

  21. @ Matt R — Re: “I hope they don’t wait too long to retire his number.”

    Unless I’m mistaken, the Lakers will only retire the number of players who make the Basketball Hall of Fame. If that’s the case, they’ll most likely opt to wait until he’s eligible for induction in Springfield.

    Per the Hall’s rules, a player must be retired for five years before he/she can be eligible. Not that there’s any question Shaq will get in, but it may be a while before we see No. 34 on the wall at Staples.

  22. they should hang his jersey in the part of the rafters where other Laker greats who went to the celtics have their jerseys displayed.

  23. On one of the radio shows today they listed Shaq’s statistics in the 15 Finals games that were played during the three-peat years. Pretty incredible – I think it was an average of 36 ppg/15 rpg/4 bpg.

  24. If only he had tweeted “I’m retiring” instead of “im retiring”. But I guess he had to go out the way he rolled throughout his career.

    My concerns for the general illiteracy of the world aside, I think as Laker fans we can definitely say that we appreciate what Shaq brought to our team for those seasons he was in LA. We may not have loved the way he played, and we most certainly hated the way he left, but the numbers (and the rings) don’t lie.

  25. My favorite Shaq memory…

    (I’ve been trying to find this clip for a while – maybe somebody can point me in the right direction)

    @ Sacramento – Shaq was hitting his free throws through the first three quarters. In the fourth, with the Lakers up 10+, somebody on the Kings has a hissy-fit and gets hit with a tech. The Lakers huddle, and then Shaq walks out to the free-throw line and nails the freebie. Shaq. Epic.

  26. Please evertone stop comparing Bynum to Gasol. Andrew is much more physical, plenty pounds heavier, more aggressive, and finishes much better around the rim. Oh… And they play different positions.

  27. Shaq + Kobe > LBJ + Wade + Lizard dude.

    Give Shaq his due. He was one of the last truly unstoppable big men. Too bad he burned so many bridges leaving LA. He should never have fooled around in Beantown. I dreamed a dream last summer that Shaq and Kobe would bury the hatchet and win one together…but alas, that is a dream deferred.

    Would the Lakers pull a “Jerry Rice” and sign Shaq for a one day contract so he can rightfully retire as a Laker? Come on…Lakers fans…he deserves that much!

  28. I remember the day that I heard the great news of Jerry West signing Shaq, and I was sooo happy. It also occurred to me that there was a restaurant in Marina Del Rey called “The Shaq”, they made great huge burgers, one of my favorite places for lunch. And, as I recall I read an article on all of the places with his name in LA. When he had the ball within 3 feet of the hoop, it was going down, no matter what, that is what I remember from him. He changed the franchise into a winning one with an up and growing Kobe. We will miss you big fella, good luck.

  29. @DY
    I also had the same thought when thinking bout shaq and kobe. basically i feel that if the supporting casts are pretty much equal in my opinion shaq and kobe would beat lebron wade and bosh. kobe in his prime was just as athletic as wade if not more lebron would get his but shaq would obliterate the whole heat front line. definitely would watch such a match-up

  30. The Lakers sure got that out fast…

    But he has to wait until he’s in the HOF.

    Speaking of people in the HOF, don’t you think it’s time to retire Pat Riley’s 12? They can do that right now.

  31. ” don’t you think it’s time to retire Pat Riley’s 12″

    At least his gel.

  32. 5) Sedale – I remember that well, dunkin’ on Dudley.

    Probably my favorite Shaq memory, being at Staples for game 7 of the WCF against Portland. The 4th quarter – pure mania – the Shaw-Shaq redemption and so much more. The game will be smaller without him.

  33. Will miss Shaq, and can only dream of what could have been. Laker great, Shaquille O’Neal retires!

  34. Shaq thanks for helping to bring three championships to the Lakers. He was truly one of the most dominate and toughest players to defend the NBA has ever seen. I am glad that the Lakers had the prime Shaquille O’Neal. He will one day have his number retired and be remembered as one of the greatest Lakers players.

  35. Shaq was a great Laker, and had an incredible HOF career. I don’t think he was the greatest center ever – he had some holes in his game – but he was certainly one of the greatest, and he was truly awesome in his prime, an incredible force to have on your team.

    I don’t subscribe to the prevailing view of “what might have been” with Shaq and Kobe, though. First of all, those guys won 3 straight titles, so they accomplished plenty. More to the point, I really don’t know if they had any more titles left in them. They were a very good but not championship-worthy team in 2003 and 2004, and I didn’t see those teams getting younger or better. It was a bold and painful move to split that duo up, and it was rough watching Shaq win one in Miami, but it’s hard to imagine Shaq and Kobe would have grabbed two more together (and counting, hopefully!) the way Kobe’s been able to do with Pau and Lamar.

  36. “The Sacramento Kings are a great……………..WNBA team.”

  37. Shaq’s greatest accomplishment:

    Poor Vlade! In all seriousness, the greatest moment for me was the Kobe-Shaq alley-oop against Portland during the 4th quarter comeback. That one play put the lid on a great come-from-behind win and perfectly symbolized what those two were able to do together in their primes.

  38. I’d feel a bit more unconditional love for the big man if he hadn’t spent two solid years after going to Miami badmouthing anyone and everyone to do with the Lakers, hadn’t continued the feud with Kobe in numerous and petty ways (like a certain rap) long after everyone ELSE had dropped it, and hadn’t proceeded to desperately hook himself up to any and every rising star he could in the hopes of adding to his title count.

    If he’d worked half as hard on his conditioning as he did on ripping folks through the media and trying to attach himself to title ready teams in his later years he’d have had a few more titles than he does.

    No debating his talent and his dominating presence. He is, at a minimum, a top-25 player of all-time.

    I just think that in the nostalgic glow of his retirement a lot of folks are forgetting what a monumental pain in the *** he could be.

    Bill Simmons can be completely biased at times, but he’s onto something with his theory that if you just hang around long enough eventually everyone loves you.

  39. Kobe wants to be mentioned with the greatest. Shaq could have been the greatest if he had Kobe’s dedication and single minded drive. But, he didn’t. Shaq had fun doing what he did. He would never say that he wasted a year of his life over a game. Shaq was a larger than life kid who unfortunately went out of the game a broken down mercenary. Gotta love him though. Bye Big Fella, you were the definitely the Most Dominant BIG Man to ever play the game, PERIOD.

  40. I could see someone walking up to Shaq and saying “Man, you could have been the greatest player ever to play the game, why didn’t you just stay in shape and try harder?” and Shaq would answer “It wouldn’t have been as much fun.”

  41. Some interesting comments above indeed:

    24) I loved the way Shaq played period!
    He played like a big man was supposed to! None of this faceup crap “Post Up with Back to the Basket!”

    36) Agreed! But Shaq’s game really didn’t have that many holes. The one glaring weakness free throws but everyone has always overlooked the problem and it was that his hands were too big (Wilt had it also) for him to ever be consistently good. Could have dominated more on Defense yes but he was always asked to expend so much offensively that it took away from his effort there. Conditioning…yes but he always rounded into shape come playoff time. But I must confess the one year (mvp year) he did come in shape he was truly spectacular. That was the best “one year” that I have ever seen any “Big Man” have and someone correct me if I am wrong Shaq might have been the last regular season MVP to win “The NBA Championship”. Couple that with the “Finals MVP” which he won 3 times and you have some “bling” to brag about baby!

    Shaq deserves much respect for all he has accomplished in Basketball. I for one thank him for salvaging a floundering Lakers franchise. Say what you will but we were getting our hat handed to us before the big fella came here. Remember he left a pretty good Orlando team to come to a Laker team that really was not that good at the time. Need I take you back to that period of time when Ceballos/Van Excel were the stars of the franchise….really?
    He came here on faith alone based on what the Lakers could and should be and when the team put the players around him…the big fella delivered! Simply put…Shaq was great! We use that too often these days. So often that we don’t recognize true greatness enough and Shaquille O’Neal my friends was great.

    So, let no one else ever wear the number #34 again in Lakerdom and put it rightly on the wall!

    Fact Check: Duncan might have been the last regular season MVP to win the NBA Championship…but then who cares about the Spurs anyway?…lol

  42. Re: Shaq
    I remember eating my moms pancakes and watching Shaq on Sunday mornings with the Magic. People forget how thin amd athletic he was with Orlando and then his first couple seasons with the Lakers. A 7-1 LeBron. I remember waiting up to see his first preseason game as a Laker in Hawaii.

    Unfortunately looking back at his basketball playing career is just sad. He was a giant waste of talent. He never worked out or ate right. He simply relied on incredible natural ability. It’s amazing he only won one championship as his teams best player in 2000. I’m sure Lakers fans remember Shaq destroying D League teams in the 2001/2002 Finals. Almost as many Laker fans remember it was Kobe who was the best player in the real championship series… The WCF’s against the Spurs and Kings.

  43. ” don’t you think it’s time to retire Pat Riley’s 12?

    “At least his gel.”

    Would’ve made a better Lugosi than Landau in “Ed Wood”. Cost Riles an Oscar!

  44. I would retire Shaq’s jersey but I wouldn’t put it on the top row.

    No amount of washing will wash that green off Shaq.

    Lakers for Life!

  45. There will be a delay in the afternoon post today. Just a heads up.

  46. @ 29 — “He changed the franchise into a winning one with an up and growing Kobe.”

    Huh? The Lakers already had six titles in L.A., plus five from Minnesota, before Shaq ever set foot in the Forum. Not to take anything away from his accomplishments, but the Lakers were a winning franchise long before Shaq came along.

    Shaq certainly helped them get back into title-winning mode for a time a decade ago. But it wasn’t like the Lakers were the Jazz or the Clippers prior to Shaq’s arrival. There were already multiple banners up on the walls.

  47. From MDE to MAR (most active retiree) I thought he would be sheriff after his basketball years, now like his team journeys, I read he will be Dr. Shaq. What he wants to do after this announcement will be a guessing game, he may be Shaq for hire during playoffs or a couple of 10 day contract at his choice during season, therefore it will be Shaq the NBA part-timer.

    Seriously speaking, if I’m JB, I’ll honor Shaq now while I’m still around, bury that hatchet and preach peace to all players who were part of ’00 dynasty. First of all, Shaq started all these strings of Championships in ‘oo, his good heart in replacing the burned LAPD patrol cars tho’ parted way with all those bulging egos from all sides.

    As a fan, I was really profoundly disappointed with our GM Mitch when all these things happened. That could have been his shinning moment in Los Angeles if MK was able to forge bridges of understanding to warring factions from Kobe, to Dr. Buss, to PJ and lastly with Shaq approached the problems objectively like a professional diplomat than just being unmoved bystander. The issues were: Kobe was still emotionally hurt by his civil case; JB got disgusted by the “pay me” incident and Lakers lost to Pistons and was given a choice between the two; PJ abruptly cut down his ties after ’04 meltdown and Shaq furiously angry moving to the conclusion of trade him now without Lakers backing of his previous services, he likewise forced the issue of choosing between him and Kobe. Indeed, it was an impossible mission for Mitch but at least if he has the knack of being a great GM and ambassador, Lakers could have generated 6 Championships with Shaq & Kobe, than going through with the dark years in wasting Kobe’s time with Mihm, Smush and Kwame.

  48. kehntangibles June 2, 2011 at 12:55 pm

    And it must be said of Shaq that – true to his word – he really did hit his free throws when they mattered.

    We also have to thank Shaq for leaving when he did, because otherwise we don’t get the 09 and 10 rings, as argued by this great read from SSR’s Dexter Fishmore:

  49. goodbye shaq.

    you may left on bad terms and didnt keep yourself in shape, but the 3 titles cant ever be forgotten.

    the NBA wont be the same.

  50. @47, You are correct, my intent was that he took us out of the Van Excel and Sedale years. I mean, without Shaq the Lakers may have been stuck in that mode of your to good for high draft picks that help the team, but not good enough to win Championships or even advance into the upper rounds of the Playoffs. Heck, the Lakers have thirteen Championships without Shaq, anyway.