Shaquille O'Neal: The Big Retirement?

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Shaquille O'Neal: The Big Retirement?
Elsa/Getty Images

My first reaction when I heard the news that Shaq retired today was "of course." The guy hobbled through the past three seasons and was so injured that he only played 12 minutes of basketball in the playoffs and his last regular season action was on April 3rd, 2011, and that was only for five minutes. The last time Shaq truly saw significant time was on February 1st, 2011.

The second thing I thought upon hearing this was, "Really, A youtube and Twitter posting." Shaq may have been the biggest personality to ever come into the NBA. Bill Russell won more, Wilt Chamberlain scored more and Michael Jordan changed the game, but Shaq is the person who truly broke through into mainstream media.

Don't get me wrong, I wanted to "Be Like Mike," too. But there was something about Michael Jordan that no matter what he was doing, you always felt he was holding a little back when it came to the media. Not with Shaq. He put it out there.

Think about it, the guy had more personalities and nicknames than most extended families have members...and we loved every version! Think about every quote Shaq has ever let fly from his mouth. "Kobe how my *ss taste." Comparing Anfrenee Hardway to Fredo Corleone. Any of his nicknames.

And let's not forget the man had his own reality TV show for awhile, "Shaq VS," where Shaq took on other athletes in their sport, often times humiliating himself. Shaq spread his wings over every media outlet and made sure he did something new with it.

We haven't even touched on how great he was on the court. Shaq hasn't been dominant since he left the Los Angeles Lakers. Yes, he went on to win a title in Miami but halfway through the season he slowed down and let Dwyane Wade take over because part of him knew a big man's body only lasts so long, and he had more to give.

There will never be another basketball player who "gets it" like Shaq did. He made millions off his fans because his fans loved him. Whether it was watching him play genie in "Kazaam" or hearing about how he goes to local Walmart's and stands at the counter paying for people's purchases at Christmas time.

No one will ever really understand why Shaq did what he did. Maybe he loved the attention, but I think that his parents raised a man with tremendous gifts and he knew he could use them to make people's lives a little better and he did, nearly every day.

I wish I knew why Shaq chose Youtube and Twitter to say goodbye to his fans. I hope the Big-"Diesel, Shamrock, Cactus, Aristotle, Man of Steel" didn't really say goodbye this way, depriving all of us of what might have been one of the all-time greatest retirement press conferences ever.

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