NBA Playoffs 2011: Celtics' Shaquille O'Neal Unable to Run, Career Could Be Over

Adam HirshfieldFeatured ColumnistApril 20, 2011

PHOENIX, AZ - JANUARY 28:  Shaquille O'Neal #36 of the Boston Celtics during the NBA game against the Phoenix Suns at US Airways Center on January 28, 2011 in Phoenix, Arizona.  The Suns defeated the Celtics 88-71.  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 Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Boston Celtics fans from North Adams to New Bedford were excited when word came that Shaquille O’Neal was expected to be returning to the lineup for the playoffs.

Sure, the Big Aristotle had missed 45 regular-season games and averaged career lows in minutes (20:18), points (9.2), rebounds (4.8) and blocks (1.1) per game.

But GM Danny Ainge reassured us that he had "every confidence that [Shaq] will be ready and play in the playoffs."

Not so fast, my friend, says Yahoo's Mark J. Miller:

"O'Neal didn't suit up for the Game 1 win over the New York Knicks and it doesn't look like he'll be out on the court anytime soon. CSN New England reports that O'Neal is ‘not really’ practicing at all and ‘can't run on the leg’ at this point."

It’s debatable whether or not the Celtics absolutely need The Big Shamrock to compete for another title, but if healthy, he’d certainly be providing some much needed minutes down low.

So far against the Knicks in the playoffs, the Celtics have played with a very shortened bench, as Jermaine O’Neal has gotten the starting nod in the paint and is splitting time with Nenad Krstic.

Now 39, the oldest active player in the NBA, could the Jolly Green Giant be coming to the end of his Hall of Fame career?