Depending on how you look at it, Shaquille O'Neal's retirement announcement yesterday was either vintage Shaq or completely ironic. On the one hand, no other athlete was a bigger early adopter of social media and technology as a way to forward one's brand, so Shaq's tweeting a 15-second video to his millions of Twitter followers is appropriate.
On the other hand, no other athlete soaked up the spotlight (happily so) and blended the worlds of popular entertainment and sports quite like O'Neal. So from that standpoint, a 15-second video was highly underwhelming. Where was the parade? Where was the band? Where was the media?
Expected or not, Shaquille O'Neal did decide to call it a career yesterday with the following tweeted video:
The position of center in the NBA is one where people's knee-jerk reaction to bringing up the name of any of the greats is to immediately start slotting him alongside the other ones. No one can mention Bill Russell without comparing him to Wilt Chamberlain. Where do you slot Kareem Abdul-Jabbar? Hakeem Olajuwon, for some reason, takes an assumed backseat to all of these guys.
So, of course, the first question everyone wanted to debate when Shaquille made his announcement yesterday is "Where do you slot Shaq?" (Never mind that you have the challenge of comparing across eras and the small detail of, for me at least, having never seen Russell or Chamberlain play -- screw that! It's 2011! We MUST slot things list-style!)
We can't just sit back and reminisce about how great Shaq was, we immediately have to debate whether or not Hakeem was better and why.
So the purpose of this post isn't for such debate. This is a celebration post. A celebration of the career -- on the court and off the court -- of one of basketball's greatest showmen, Shaquille O'Neal.
(By the way, Dream was better than Shaq. Better defender, more tenacious rebounder, more self-made game, harder worker, won titles with much less of a supporting cast. So there. I guess I couldn't make it out of this post without getting all "listy.")
SHAQUILLE O'NEAL PREGAME INTERVIEW Check out this pregame interview between Dick Vitale and a 1989 version of Shaq. Shaq looks so skinny and gangly compared to what he grew into, it's almost like watching a baby calf learn how to walk and use his body parts.
SHAQUILLE O'NEAL McDONALD'S ALL AMERICAN GAME DUNK It's funny how at the time of this video (same game as the above interview) a seven-footer dribbling somewhat awkwardly down the floor and dunking on high school kids was considered revolutionary. Can you imagine how LeBron James even at 18 would have torn the ass out of this McDonald's game?
SHAQUILLE O'NEAL DOMINATING AT LSU Credit Dick Vitale, his hyperbole about Shaq in this video (kind of surreal to listen to) is spot on.
WARNING: Ahmad Rashad is in this video. And he's very annoying. (Yeah, I know, when is he not?) Good to see him almost get Shaq killed and then laugh about it.
SHAQUILLE O'NEAL BRINGS DOWN AN ENTIRE BASKET This one is a famous one -- Shaq bringing the whole backboard down. Take a look at this and wonder what happens if Shaq doesn't duck his head, which allowed the shot clock to kind of hit him in the shoulder blades. If his head is up, the shot clock at least concusses him and maybe causes a serious neck injury. Would have made for a fascinating lawsuit.
1995 FINALS GAME 1 Shaq wouldn't put this in his career highlights, but we live in Houston. Gotta remind everyone that Shaq did lose in the Finals to Hakeem.
TACO BELL COMMERCIAL This made tandem bikes and propeller hats cool again.
MVP of the season, the All-Star Game and the Finals. If Shaq had one year where he was the unequivocal best in the game, it was 2000.
SHAQ DROPS AN F-BOMB ON LIVE TV Shaq had enough equity for everyone to be okay with this, I guess.
SHAQ ASKING KOBE HOW HIS ASS TASTES This should have won a Grammy.
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SHAQ ON MONDAY NIGHT RAW Best part of this video is at about the 6:00 mark when The Big Show says he won't wrestle Shaq and then Chris Jericho hilariously comes in and says he won't fight him either. You just have to see it.
Listen to Sean Pendergast on 1560 The Game from noon to 3 p.m. weekdays and follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanCablinasian.