Farewell to "The Diesel", "Shaq Fu", "The Big Daddy", "Superman", "The Big Agave", "The Big Cactus", "The Big Shaqtus", "The Big Galactus", "Wilt Chamberneezy", "The Big Baryshnikov", "The Real Deal", "Dr. Shaq" "The Big Shamrock", "The Big Leprechaun", and "Shaqovic."
Say anything you want to about Shaquille O’Neal but, you can’t say that he wasn’t one of the funniest players ever to grace the NBA court. You could always count on a quote from whatever moniker he was going by at time and he would say it in his often inaudible monotone voice. Shaq’s personality nearly overshadowed his game, which is saying a lot for a guy who dominated in a way the league hadn’t seen since the great Wilt Chamberlain roamed the court. Shaq was an immovable force who put up 28,596 points, gobbled up 13,099 rebounds, batted down 2,732 shots and broke numerous backboards. He used his power and surprising agility to overwhelm opponents. O’Neal is firmly entrenched as one of the best centers ever thanks to those talents but it was his off court persona that most will miss.
Shaq’s lovable character made him an easy marketable player as he went on to star in such (bad) movies as Blue Chips, Kazaam, and Man of Steel. He had his own Kung-Fu video game titled “Shaq-Fu” and even his rap group “Fu Schnickens”. Shaq and Kobe’s memorable feud will always be a touchy subject for most because you were either for one or the other, no in-between. For me personally as a Laker fan, I will always be disappointed with the way things played themselves out with those two because they could have continued to win championships if it wasn’t for their ego infused dislike for each other. But that’s just the way it goes for Shaq. (So I guess its safe to say Kobe won the battle of the rings with 5 and Shaq retiring with 4.)
The Shaq train made stops in Orlando, L.A., Miami, Phoenix, Cleveland, and Boston and he took each city for a ride each time. Yes, his career probably went a few seasons too long and fizzled out in the end and maybe it wasn't the best idea to pair him with Steve Nash in the Phoenix (Great idea Steve Kerr) but no one will remember those parts of his career. His legacy will always be that of gentle giant who was a physical specimen to behold but had a heart as soft as a marshmallow.
O”neal had some many funny encounters its hard to remember every one of them. Who can forget his memorable entrance in the 2009 All-Star game with the Jabbawockeez dance crew? How about his infamous “Tell me how my ass tastes” song he performed in a Miani night club to mock Kobe after winning a championship with the Heat. And who can forget him referring to the Sacramento Kings as the Queens, or calling Erick Damipier Erica Dampier (That was funny I must say). Shaq has never been short for words as you can see and it made him into one of the giants of the game both physically and mentally.
Happy trails to the big fella, I’m sure he will try his hand at movies, reality TV and law enforcement as he always reiterated he would do when his career was over. But none of that will take the place of actually hearing Shaq in the heat of moment interviews. That is where he was at his best. Shaq was more than a basketball player, he was an entertainer. He will add one more title to his laundry list of names, that is Hall of Famer and that’s the best one of all.