Shaq the Sun: Just 37 Going on 20

George LangbergContributor IMarch 31, 2009

OAKLAND, CA - MARCH 15:  Shaquille O'Neal #32 of the Phoenix Suns looks on against the Golden State Warriors during an NBA game on March 15, 2009 at Oracle Arena in Oakland, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)

One year ago, Shaquille O'Neal was contemplating retirement after having one of his worst seasons. He'd averaged a career-low 12.9 points per game.

He decided to give it another go-round, but coming into the 2008-09 campaign, many doubted that the 325-pound, 7'1" center would play much of a role on the up-tempo Phoenix Suns.

But instead of listening to the haters, Shaq has realized that he is not the star of the Suns and has embraced his job on the team as a mentor, a good teammate, and a winner.

As a teacher, Shaq has been a great towards rookie center Robin Lopez, who, in my mind, seems to have improved steadily throughout the season while earning more minutes off the bench.

O'Neal has always been someone that others want to play with. He's run the court with Kobe Bryant, Dwyane Wade, and Steve Nash, and they have all spoken about what a treat Shaq is to have on their team.

And without question, the Diesel is a winner. Dude's got four NBA championships (three with the Los Angeles Lakersand one with the Miami Heat).

Most athletes in the latter years of their career do not know how to "turn it on and off," but Shaq is an exception. Although he's past his prime, he is still commmitted to being one of the NBA's top big men.

Whether it's diving into the stands for loose balls or getting a season-high 45 points when the game is on the line, you can count on the "Big Cactus."

It's good to see the 15-time All Star really playing like an All-Star in the second half of the season. He has really stepped up in Amar'e Stoudemaire's absence due to eye injury.

Whether or not this is the last season for the "Big Aristotle," he has shown everyone that he still has a little drive left in him.