Around the World (Wide Web): Shaq Edition

Phillip Barnett —  June 2, 2011

From Andy Kamenetzky, Land O’ Lakers: Safe to say, only Shaquille O’Neal could announce his retirement with just 29 words, yet create a tizzy equal to a 29,000 press conferences. Twitter was in danger of exploding late Wednesday morning when, via a new real time video messaging service called Tout, Shaq let the world know he’s hanging up the sneaks for good. “We did it,” said O’Neal to his fans. “Nineteen years baby. 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.” Throughout the video, O’Neal is all smiles, a casual peace sign flashed in lieu of tears welling or visible introspection. (If you stick around after the video ends, another video of O’Neal singing “When Doves Cry” begins.) It’s fitting he’d alert the fans before the Celtics or the media, because nobody in the NBA played more to the cheap seats than Shaq. He never lost sight that sports is a form of entertainment for Joe Q. Public, and he lived to uphold end of the bargain.

From Michael Schwartz, Valley of the Suns: When Steve Kerr pulled the trigger on a trade that brought the Phoenix Suns one of the best big men in the history of the game, albeit in his older stages, he knew the deal would make him look like either a genius or a moron. In hindsight that answer is obvious as Shaq only put the Suns closer to a championship upon his trade to Cleveland, but Kerr went for that deal because of a proven NBA fact over the course of the last two decades: If Shaquille O’Neal graces your roster you have a shot at a ring. With Shaq announcing his retirement Wednesday on social media, fitting for all he did to grow Twitter among NBA players, his late-career stays in Phoenix, Cleveland and Boston will be seen as merely footnotes to a 19-year career that was perhaps the Most Dominant Ever, complete with four championship rings, 15 All-Star appearances and shockingly only one MVP trophy. But he wasn’t that Shaq for the Suns. When the Shaqtus was dealt to Cleveland I summed up his Phoenix career like this:

From Dave McMenamin, ESPNLA: Some time in the future, fans attending a game at the Staples Center will be able to say, “Look up in the rafters! It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s Superman’s retired jersey!” The Los Angeles Lakers plan to honor their former self-proclaimed Superman, Shaquille O’Neal, by raising his No. 34 jersey to the rafters. “We don’t have any specific timetable on this, but you can be assured we will retire Shaq’s jersey,” said Lakers spokesman John Black in an email on Wednesday. O’Neal, 39, revealed his retirement earlier Wednesday using the new social media tool Tout, a real-time video messaging service, to announce to fans: “We did it. Nineteen years baby. I want to thank you very much, that’s why I’m telling you first, I’m about to retire. Love you, talk to you soon.”

From Daniel Buerge, Lakers Nation: On a day that was supposed to focus around reactions to Game 1 of the NBA Finals one man stole the spotlight as he has so many times in his legendary career. Shaquille O’Neal announced via Twitter that he is retiring from the NBA after spending 19 years on the court. During his time in the league O’Neal played the role of entertainer as well as basketball star, and became a character that was larger than life. ?With O’Neal’s illustrious career now at an end it’s only fair to look back at the impact he made on the league and the legacy he left. As the league transforms more and more into a league dominated by guards and wing players, it’s safe to say that O’Neal may go down in history as the last of the great big men. But his legacy is so much more than that.

From Jack McCallum, Sports Illustrated: One of the worst habits of journalists, including myself, is beginning sentences like this: “There will never be another …” We do it all the time, caught in the moment, unable to remember the immutable truth that there is an unstoppable tide to history, players and events coming and going, coming and going, coming and going. Still, I’m going to say this: There will never be another Shaquille O’Neal. There will be (and has been) bigger players, and there may even be outright funnier players (though not many), but it was the combination of the two that made Shaq sui generis. “Nobody roots for Goliath,” Wilt Chamberlain once said, and that was true … until Shaq came along. It figures that he would announce his retirement via Twitter. He was among the first athletes to put the “social” in social media. Shaq was the world’s biggest circus clown (that’s a compliment) and brought an antic sense to his profession that surpassed that of any athlete I ever covered. Kevin McHale was close — the Boston Celtics forward once told me how complete his life would’ve been had he invented the phrase “cement pond” from “The Beverly Hillbillies” — but McHale was a supporting player on teams led by Larry Bird, and, with Bird around, you couldn’t get too antic. Shaq, by contrast, was always The Man in Charge, the Jester in Chief, his teams running on Diesel fuel.

From Tom Ziller, SB Nation: Shaquille O’Neal has announced he will retire from the NBA after 19 often brilliant seasons punctuated by an MVP award in 2000 and four championships. Shaq wore many hats during his NBA career: dominant center, physical anomaly, skilled giant, quote machine, bad actor, worse rapper, bequeather of nicknames, mogul, fan favorite, target of hate, diva. But all of that pointed at one clear definition of Shaq as an entity: he was a star. Shaq was almost a perfect response to Michael Jordan, the reigning hegemon whose NBA welcomed O’Neal in 1992. Where Jordan was psychotically determined and polished, Shaq was often goofy and darling. Nothing mattered more than basketball for MJ, and it showed, even when he made movies with Looney Tunes. For Shaq? Basketball was a piece of him. Basketball was the day job — a day job he did seem to love and that he was obviously incredible at. But just a piece. We sit at the end of a long, gold-encrusted 19-year career, and we know now basketball was just a piece of Shaq. Imagine how we’ll see it in another decade, when O’Neal’s run through another dozen projects.

From Mark Medina, LA Times: One of the first messages Shaquille O’Neal received from Phil Jackson consisted of both a compliment and a challenge. “I told Shaq when I took over as head coach in our first initial meeting as a team that the MVP trophy should be named after him when he retired,” Jackson recently told Fox Sports’ Mark Kriegel. The message spoke both to Shaq’s nearly unstoppable stature. His 7-foot-1, 325- pound frame provided a physical presence that proved difficult to stop inside. His agility made it hard to slow him down. And on the heels of Shaq officially announcing Wednesday his retirement via Tout, he’ll be remembered as one of the most dominant centers in the game.

Phillip Barnett

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4 responses to Around the World (Wide Web): Shaq Edition

  1. Rusty Shackleford June 2, 2011 at 12:21 pm

    I’ve already seen a few comments speculating that Big Fella is going to pull a Bret Favre. Like take a year off, get his body healthy again and return. I don’t buy it for a second.

    I did find it a bit saddening during his phone interview when he muttered something about his body breaking down. I wish his 7′-1″ frame a long and healthy life after basketball.

    My prediction for him is a string of reality TV stints landing him a TV show (!Magic Hour!). How the TV show does I will have to wait and see for myself.

  2. I say the Lakers sign him!………………….

    for a day, so he can retire as a Laker.

  3. @Arhithia, I’d be cool with Shaq signing for one day so that he could retire as a Laker. But why stop there lets sign him for the MLE, we’d only need Shaq for a few minutes a game or as insurance against injury (haha, who would be insurance against his injuries). But, do you think that Kobe would go for that?

    Man that would put the league on their heels, huh? I would wager to bet that Shaq would make for a better backup center than Joe Smith or Theo Ratliff (barring injuries, of course)…I know, I know he hasn’t played a full season in years. Still intriguing!

    It happens to every athlete, just sad to see Shaq travel to so many teams when he should have stayed a Laker!

    Shaq, thanks for the 3 titles and for your sense of humor!