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The Big Irreplaceable: A Video Retrospective Of Shaquille O'Neal's Career

Victor Marticorena |
June 3, 2011 | 4:25 p.m. PDT

Staff Writer

Whatever nickname you prefer, O'Neal is certainly one-of-a-kind. (Creative Commons)
Whatever nickname you prefer, O'Neal is certainly one-of-a-kind. (Creative Commons)
I know it's hardly started, but I can’t help but wonder what is going to happen now.

No, I’m not talking about the lockout in the NFL, or the potential lockout situation that the NBA is facing soon. I’m talking about,what are we going to do now that Shaq has retired?

One of the most dominant centers of all time officially called it quits on Friday, and for me it’s brought about a slew of questions about the future of the NBA.

Who is going to replace him as one of the most lovable personalities in the NBA, or in all of sports for that matter?

I just can’t imagine anyone being able to replace his bubbly charisma, his witty remarks, and his overall larger-than-life presence both on and off the court.

In honor of my favorite big man, and the most dominant force of my time, we take a video trip through the 19 seasons that Shaquille O’Neal spent gracing the NBA.

Shaq the Athlete

Shaquille O’Neal was a fun-loving, beast of a man from even before he set foot in the NBA, making an impact on everyone he ever came in contact with.

In 1992, the year before starting his professional career with the Orlando Magic, Shaq did a segment with Ahmad Rashad in which the two played a little one-on-one. Well, it seemed as if Shaq didn’t like getting scored on, so he took it out on the rim.

The amazing part is that it wasn’t the only time he rattled the rim with that much force.

He’s a big reason that the NBA uses reinforced baskets, to prevent any more delays from shattered backboards or collapsed rims.

Even though the man was known as a behemoth on the court, what was most impressive about his game was the quickness and agility he possessed. Many of his opponents were left disoriented from his spin moves, crossovers, and just the overall quickness of a man who averaged over 300 lbs. for most, if not all, of his career.

In multiple All-Star games, Shaq has been known to run the point at least once during the game. I ask you all to name another 300 lb. man to do that, and when you find this person let me know.

Shaq the Entertainer

O’Neal wasn’t the first big-name athlete to have an acting career. Jim Brown and Kareem Abdul-Jabar both appeared in and starred in movies after their respective careers.

However, Shaq was one of the first athletes to pursue multiple career paths at the same time. During the off-seasons Shaq starred in numerous movies, including one of my favorites as a child, “Kazaam.”

Yeah, it was pretty terrible, but it doesn’t mean that wasn’t enjoyable! In fact, two of the movies Shaq starred in (“Blue Chips” and “Steel”) were nominated for Razzies. Don’t know what a Razzie is? Just think the exact opposite of the Oscars.

Shaq also released two somewhat successful rap albums while taking his seasonal break from the NBA.

And not only was Shaq talented behind the mic and in front of a camera, but he also had some impressive dance moves stored up in his 7’1” frame.

Later in his career Shaq moved on to the small screen and starred in a few reality TV shows, most recently “Shaq Vs.”, where he would take on other athletes in a modified competition in their respective sports.

Just this past year, he even went out on an off day in Boston and posed as a statue for two hours in the middle of Harvard Yard, moving very little and allowing fans to come and take pictures.

Now that Shaq is going to have plenty of spare time, who knows what will be next for the big man.

Whether it be sitting in the studio doing some NBA analysis, another reality show, another movie, or anything else, I will most likely be watching and enjoying every minute of it.

Shaq the Man of 1000 Nicknames  

“Shaq” was just the first of the many nicknames Shaquille O’Neal has used throughout his life.

Being the larger than life personality he is, Shaq took on a multitude of personas both on and off the court.

He was dubbed Superman, or the Man of Steel (because of his size and quickness), and even had the “S” tattooed on his arm.

But that was just one of many more he came up with himself.

Depending on how he felt or where he played, Shaq came up with nicknames including, but not limited to, the Diesel, Shaq Fu, the Big Aristotle (started in LA), the Big Sidekick (mainly in Miami and Cleveland), the Big Shaqtus (Phoenix), and the Big Shamrock (Boston). And who could forget his latest, "Shaquita?"

I’m sure we can expect a few more in the coming years.

Shaq “the Big Quotation”

Along with the nicknames, one of the traits that made Shaq such a character was his relationship with the media.

Shaq rarely held back, and enjoyed the spotlight very much.

He played with the media, feeding them quote after quote of memorable one-liners, or “Your momma’s so…” jokes about different reporters. There is even a website dedicated to recording most of the big man’s famous lines.

He most definitely did not disappoint during his press conference. The man came out firing with joke after joke, playing once again to his audience and entertaining the whole time.

Retirement Press Conference

Shaq’s retirement press conference was just another example of how the man is one of a kind.

Rather than holding it in some hotel conference room or something of that sort, he invited the media into his home, treated them with gracious hospitality, catered their lunch, and made a celebration of it.

He acknowledged everyone in his retirement speech, including all the nameless faces such as security guards and ushers at the stadiums where he played in his 19-year journey through six NBA teams.

He graciously bowed out on his own terms, knowing that his time was up and that he was now passing the torch on to superstars such as Kobe Bryant, Dwyane Wade, LeBron James, and Dwight Howard.

Of course, he couldn’t leave without cracking a few more jokes or dropping at least one more nickname.

After officially retiring he claimed that his nicknames (including Superman) were therefore retired as well, and that he is now relegated to one final nickname: “The Big AARP.”  

It’s been a fun 19 years, big fella, and like you said, I’m hoping for another 19 more.

Watch O’Neal’s official retirement speech here.


Reach Victor by email, or follow him on Twitter.




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