MIAMI (CBSMiami.com) – After 19 years, the majority of which he dominated, former Miami Heat center Shaquille O’Neal has announced his retirement via his Twitter account.
But, the Boston Celtics have been caught flat-footed by the announcement on Twitter. Celtics spokesman Jeff Twiss said, “To my knowledge, he has not informed any of us that he’s retiring.”
Nevertheless, Shaq was loved and hated in South Florida. When he arrived, he helped lead the Heat to an NBA Championship in 2006. But, when he wore out his welcome in Miami and was traded, he became hated for the things he said about the city and the Heat.
“We did it, 19 years baby. I want to thank you very much,” Shaq said. “That’s why I’m telling you first, I’m about to retire. Love ya, talk to you soon.”
Love him or hate him, Shaq was one of the most dominant centers the NBA has ever seen. He stood 7’1” and weighed 325 pounds, though some would claim he was only a couple of doughnuts short of 400 pounds at times.
For his career, he averaged 23.7 points, 10.9 rebounds, and 2.3 blocks per game. He teamed with Kobe Bryant in Los Angeles to bring the Lakers three championships. He would then join Miami where he averaged 18.6 points per game, including the 05-06 season when he gave the Heat 20 points and 9.2 rebounds per game.
But Shaq ware more than just a player. From rap albums, to movies, to some of the wildest comments ever made, Shaq was bigger than life for the NBA. He filled the void left when Michael Jordan retired and through his impressive play, he kept the Lakers and Heat in the championship hunt when he was with both teams.
Shaq’s impressive physical stature brought him from the court at LSU to the top of the NBA ladder. He connected with fans like few others ever have in the NBA. While Kobe wasn’t the fan favorite, Shaq could always command an audience like few others.
Shaq played in 12 All-Star games and averaged 16.8 points and 8.1 rebounds per game throughout his All-Star career. He had only one flaw in his game, his free throw shooting.
Teams throughout his 19-year career utilized what became known as the “hack-a-Shaq” method to make the center beat them at the free throw line. For his career, he shot just 52.7 percent from the line.
So as the Miami Heat, led by Dwyane Wade and Udonis Haslem, continue their pursuit of an NBA Championship, the man in the middle of the Heat’s last NBA title has finally pulled the Diesel into his garage for a much-needed retirement.