After 19 seasons in the NBA, 28,000 career points, four NBA championships, 3 NBA Finals MVP’s, 15 All-Star appearances, and a myriad of nicknames, Shaquille O’Neal called it a career last week. And what a brilliant career it was. When he came into the league in 1992, Shaq took the NBA by storm and emerged as one of the best centers in the game. Then for more than a decade, the Big Aristotle was the most dominant force in the NBA and was part of some of the most memorable moments in NBA history. Shaq was the true definition of a winner and will go down as one of the all-time greats to man the paint.
However, the true brilliance of Shaq goes even beyond what he did on the court. His accomplishments on the court are numerous and the resume is impressive, but beyond that he was always good for a laugh or two before, during, or even after the game, he was extremely marketable, he embraced the media in a way that may never be duplicated, and his countless efforts of the court and in the community should not go unnoticed.
Many people will debate for a long time where he ranks on the list of all-time centers in NBA history. Shaquille O’Neal is a once-in-a-generation player and what he brought to the league both on and off-the-court may never be duplicated. Does that mean he is better than Kareem? Does it mean he is better than Wilt? Or even Russell? Maybe or maybe not and it is a debate that will more than likely continue to go on, but his greatness is unquestioned. Shaq belongs in that conversation with all of the other great big men that came before him and all the others that come after him will have some big shoes to fill.
Shaquille O’Neal joined 106.7 the Fan in Washington D.C. and Fox Sports Radio to talk about his retirement, whether or not he is hiding his sadness with humor and jokes, what is next for him now that he has retired, how he feels about his career in the NBA, and what he thought about his time in Los Angeles. (Editor’s note: These quotes are gleaned from two separate radio interviews)
Whether or not he is covering up his sadness from retiring with humor and jokes:
“I’m a humorous guy and not only am I a humorous guy but I’m a real guy. Nothing lasts forever. Nothing lasts forever. You just have to come in strong, be strong in the middle, and end strong. My book, that’s how it’s going to be.”
On what the future holds:
“Made a lot of friends, got a lot of business opportunities, got a lot of TV opportunities, and I’m just gonna sit back. You know me I’ve always been one to take advantage of my opportunities so hopefully I can just continue to make people laugh.”
On how his career went:
“I think it was especially when the great Phil Jackson came along. The good thing about me and my career is that I have always wanted to do it my way and I think I did it my way.”
How he feels about his time in Los Angeles:
“It was the greatest eight years of my life. I was around a lot of legends. Kobe Bryant, Jerry West, Mitch Kupchak, Magic Johnson, and Kareem Abdul Jabaar. There was a lot of glitz and glamour and a lot of expectations, but for the most part we lived up to those expectations. We both did it our way and we both had a great time doing it. I want to thank the Lakers organization. I talked to Jerry Buss yesterday. We had a great conversation.”