Thursday, June 2, 2011

End of an Era: The Big Retiree Shaquille O'Neal

Today, one of the most dominant big men in the National Basketball Association (NBA) history ended his career through twitter. Shaquille O'Neal will always be remembered as one of few players in the league who can destroy hoops and dunk over two-three players at the same time. He ended his career with four NBA titles and numerous individual awards. In my opinion, he was one of the few players in the world who can claim that he had won everything that basketball (in his country) can offer and that his career was complete. Aside from winning championships and individual awards in the NCAA and the NBA, he also represented the United States in international basketball and won gold medals in the Pan American Games, the FIBA Americas Championship, the FIBA World Championship and the Olympic Games.

Of course, what makes Shaquille O'Neal great was his presence. He was one of few NBA players that make the other teams think twice and devise/design tactics to stop him. Before Shaq, there was the "Jordan Rule", design to stop Michael Jordan in the late 1980s and it worked for a while until His Airness soared even high. In Shaq's case, teams devise the "Hack-a-Shaq" rule to stop Shaq's influence in the game by taking advantage of his weakness in the free-throw line.

Anyway, there won't be another Shaquille O'Neal and yes, there were other centers (e.g. Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar) much greater than him but if they all play together at the same time and at the peaks of their career, Shaq will no doubt dominate them. A center as big and as dominant as Shaq was will be hard to find. The closest thing we have now is Dwight Howard but Superman Junior is different and a great player on his own right.

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