Boston Celtics center Shaquille O'Neal, long the oversized center of the NBA's attention, posted a simple message on Twitter on Wednesday: "im retiring."
That message included a link to a video in which O'Neal, seated at an office desk, addresses a camera. "We did it," O'Neal says smiling. "Nineteen years, baby. I want to thank you very much. That's why I'm telling you first that I'm about to retire. Love you. Talk to you soon."
Here's the video via YouTube user zeblowtorch. (Hat tip: The Basketball Jones.)
O'Neal, who is 39 years old, saw his 2010-2011 campaign with the Boston Celtics marred by injuries. He played in just 37 games, averaging a career-low 9.2 points and 4.8 rebounds. Hobbled by an Achilles injury, O'Neal was able to play just 12 minutes in the NBA playoffs and the Celtics were bounced in the Eastern Conference semifinals by the Miami Heat.
|Shaq: The Legacy|
|Stats (All-Time List)|
A spokesperson for the Celtics said O'Neal had not yet informed the franchise about his plans to retire. "To my knowledge, he has not informed any of us that he's retiring," Celtics spokesman Jeff Twiss told the Associated Press. O'Neal had a player option for the 2011-2012 season worth $1.4 million which he will forego if and when he files his official retirement papers with the NBA. Roughly two weeks ago, O'Neal's mother predicted that he would return to play for Boston next season.
O'Neal's career accomplishments make him a certain first-ballot Hall of Famer. A 15-time All-Star, 4-time NBA champion and the 1999-2000 MVP, O'Neal was perhaps the most physically dominant center the game has ever seen.
The Associated Press sums up his career arc nicely.
One of the most charismatic players in NBA history, O'Neal was a franchise-saver when the Orlando Magic made him the No. 1 overall pick in the 1992 draft. He took them from the lottery to the playoffs in two years, and then led them to the NBA Finals in his third year before they were swept by the Houston Rockets.O'Neal leaves the game as the NBA's No. 5 all-time scorer, No. 12 all-time rebounder and No. 7 all-time in blocks. His career field goal percentage of 58.2 percent ranks him second all-time. His career averages: 23.7 points, 10.9 rebounds and 2.3 blocks.
O'Neal, 39, signed with the Los Angeles Lakers in 1996 and had his greatest success there, winning three titles alongside Kobe Bryant and coach Phil Jackson. But amid tension between O'Neal and Bryant over credit for the team's success, O'Neal was traded to the Miami Heat in the summer of 2004, fresh off a loss to the Detroit Pistons in the Finals.
After 3 1/2 years in Miami, a tenure that included his fourth NBA championship, O'Neal became a veteran-for-hire, moving to Phoenix and then Cleveland and finally Boston. But he couldn't deliver another title for Steve Nash and Amar'e Stoudemire with the Suns, with LeBron James with the Cavaliers or with the Celtics' Big Three of Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen.
At each stop, he endeared himself to the fans and his new teammates with his effervescent smile and playful attitude, including the habit of adopting a new nickname that he felt embodied his role with his new team. In Phoenix he was the "Big Shaqtus"; in Boston, the "Big Shamroq."