NBA Free Agency: Four Reasons Shaquille O'Neal Should Have Retired
The Big Aristotle, Shaq Diesel, Shaq-Fu, Superman, The Shaq Daddy, The M.D.E. (Most Dominant Ever), The Big Baryshnikov, Wilt Chamberneazy, Shaq Albert, Doctor Shaq, Osama Bin Shaq, The Big Deporter, The Big Witness Protection, The Big Shaqtus, The Big Agave, The Big Elvis, The Cleveland Steamer.
Amazing, really, how many nicknames Shaq's accrued in his long NBA career.
What's more amazing is he has as many nicknames as years in the league.
Shaq recently signed with the Boston Celtics, continuing not only another year of nickname-dubbing, but his quest for another championship.
When Shaq entered the league, he was immediately a respected defensive and offensive force--posting 23 points, 14 rebounds, and 3.5 blocks as a rookie. Shaqtastic to say the least.
Entering the league with such a splash, many expected his successes to continue when he joined the Lakers. 3 championships and 3 Finals MVP awards later, Shaq decided to take his talents to South Beach.
With Dwyane "Flash" Wade at his side, the superhero tandem brought a championship to South Beach. But as Shaq aged, Miami's chance of repeating became slim.
Shaqzilla then began terrorizing more cities, moving to Phoenix, and then Cleveland, and now Boston.
WIth an aging body, and a very small contract ($3 million for 2 years), Shaq needs to reassess his place as the Celtic's most recent Shaquisition.
Reason #1: Shaq's Age
Once a young, fast-moving, brick wall of talent, Shaq was one of the most dominant forces in the league.
The Big Aristotle turns 39 this season and his age is showing more than ever.
Shaq began his career's decline in 2006, the year after he won a championship with the Miami Heat. Four years later, his career still lacks an upside.
Shaq's age has impacted his court presence greatly, and he is no longer as effective as he once was.
Shaq is no longer a beast on the boards, averaging just 6.7 rebounds last year with the Cavaliers, his career low. Shaq is also no longer an irreplaceable offensive threat. Averaging only 12.0 points per game with the Cavs. Scoring and rebounding have always been facets to his self-titled, "The Most Dominant Ever" persona.
Retro-Superman is also injury-prone because of his age. Last year, Shaq played only 23 minutes a game, another career low. On top of all this, Shaq also only played 53 games the whole season, using a "thumb-injury" as reasonable cause.
All in all, we know how effective Shaq was in his heyday. A dominant offensive player, a monster on the boards. Shaq's age has taken both the above statements away from his game.
And with such a small contract, Shaq should have asked himself, "is it worth it?"
Reason #2: Shaq's New Lack of Defense
Shaq, the 7th player on the career block leaders list, is seeing his stalwart defense depreciate year by year.
In Phoenix, Shaq displayed some defense, but nothing special as he averaged just 1.7 blocks per game. Shaq and his Suns allowed 105 points per game in 2008-2009.
Shaq showing he could still post big numbers in Phoenix, flaked on the defensive end. This was the first sign of Shaq's lack-of-defense, post-Miami years.
After Phoenix, Shaq's signed on as King James' Big Witness Protection. In Cleveland, Shaq took on the role of an 8-figure starting role player, and played mediocre defense as a starter.
Shaq's lack of defensive-impact continued to show when Cleveland flopped out of the playoffs to the Celtics.
Shaq can still be a presence in the paint, but no longer provides as much impact as he once did.
Regretably, the era of Shaq-Fu is no more.
Reason #3: Bleak Opportunity at a Championship
Shaq was once a three-time Finals MVP. Shaq then went to Miami, promised his ring-winning fashion, and delivered just one year later.
Since then, Shaq's found it hard to compete for another championship.
At Phoenix, Shaq took the Suns to just one playoff series in his two years.
Last year, as the Shaqtus moved his act to Cleveland (a championship-worthy team at the time) he once again failed to bring the Cavs that one critical step closer to a championship.
This summer, Shaq turned the Big Three into the Huge Four. The Celtics are another team Shaq wishes will rise up and become the next NBA champions.
The Celtics showed promise last season. Rondo rose as a pivotal player, Allen continued to shoot well from deep, Pierce continued his long career of clutch shots, and KG more-or-less stayed as one of the NBA's best defensive players.
However, with another season past, the aging Celtics find another old veteran role player in Shaq.
With LA continuing its dominance in the West, and Miami rising as the potential favorite to win it all, Boston has its work cut out for them.
Boston was the best contender Shaq could have signed with (even though LA or MIA would have been nostalgic). However, Shaq still finds himself in a position to lose his final game of the season, and have another ring-less year under his belt.
Reason #4: Shaq's Legacy
After Decision 10, many people began talking about LeBron's legacy.
So I ask, what is Shaq's legacy.
As of today, Shaq USED to be one of the most dominant centers ever. Shaq USED to be an irreplaceable presence on the court. Shaq was one of the best centers ever.
While all this is true, Shaq has also added a couple of other statements to his legacy.
Shaq ended his career as a journeyman, a player with a "along for the ride" mentality, starving for another championship.
Of course, many players ended their careers like Shaq, playing until they couldn't anymore.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar ended his career as a 42 year-old, averaging 10 points and 4.5 rebounds. Kareem however, still averaged 23.4 ppg until he was 39, then slowly declined. Kareem played his final game with the Lakers, staying with the franchise that gave him so much.
Karl Malone never averaged below 20ppg until he was 40. Karl spent his 40th year with the Lakers, in search for a championship. However, after losing to the Pistons in '04, Malone decided to give his body the rest it needed and respectfully retired from the game.
Shaq could have mimicked Kareem or Malone in the past. However, his chance at going out like two of the best big men ever passed him a couple years ago.
Shaq could have hung it up after Miami, he could have retired after the Phoenix episode. Or even this post-season, after suffering a shortcoming to the Celtics. But his career continues to drag on and on and on (etc).
How many more years does Shaq plan on playing? Will he ever win another ring? Does he want to retire with the nickname, "The Big Leprechaun"?
Another year with another contender may answer these long, drawn-out questions. Maybe Shaq should just stick to selling IcyHot.