The Big Aristotle, Shaq Diesel, Shaqtus, Superman has left the NBA for good. Yesterday, Shaquille O’Neal announced via Twitter that he was out. Retiring after an injury-riddled season with the Boston Celtics. I’m going to miss Shaq, though I suspect TNT is already trying to get him in the fold for next season. After all, Orlando to Atlanta is not a long flight.
Part of me wishes Shaq would’ve walked away from the league after LeBron James decided to destroy all teams in his path for the next decade. But a larger part of me wishes Shaq would’ve finished his career with the San Antonio Spurs, even if it was on San Antonio’s injured list. Think about it. We could’ve called him the Big Fiesta. Then when he got hurt, the Big Siesta. Then when he got out of shape, we could’ve called him the Big Burrito (credit to my brother, Evan for that one).
I saw Shaq play once in my career. It was at the Alamodome, my seats were under the basket closest to the Laker bench. The Spurs crushed the Lakers and everyone was thinking the Spurs could upset the Lakers in the playoffs. Then Shaq went in to playoff Shaq mode and led L.A. to one of their three titles. When Shaq announced last summer that San Antonio was at the top of his list of preferred teams, I got more than excited about it, despite thinking the he was washed up. Sure, he and Tim Duncan would have become the slowest frontcourt since Shaq and Zydrunas Ilgauskas or really anytime Miami trotted out a front line that didn’t involve Chris Bosh or LeBron. Though, Big Z and Juwan Howard was fun to watch in slow motion. Wait, that was in real time? But I digress.
But just imagine the excitement and entertainment during training camp, after practice and after game interviews. Any interaction with Spurs coach Gregg Popovich would’ve been gold. Imagine if Shaq did anything half as entertaining as this, I think Shaq rocking #33 for the Spurs would’ve been worth it.
Alas, Shaq went to Boston, he got hurt and really couldn’t come back from his various injuries and he’ll end his career stuck one ring behind Kobe and tied with Duncan for his career. Maybe he should’ve come to San Antonio and finished his basketball career when it started over 20 years ago at Cole High School. Maybe he could’ve put a larger body on Marc Gasol and kept him from getting so many rebounds. That last part probably wouldn’t have happened, but Shaq would’ve provided San Antonio a little bit of excitement and a lot of fun for a season and who knows, maybe he would’ve stayed healthy long enough to help get the Spurs past the first round of the playoffs. But that’s all in the past now. All we can do now is wonder and imagine.
I want to know what you think Spurs fans. Would you have wanted Shaq in a Spurs uniform even if it was just for one season?