The Diesel Is Done : What Legacy Does He Leave?

Posted: June 2, 2011 by mceagle611 in Sports
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


Courtesy of sportsillustrated.com

In the middle of the afternoon yesterday, Shaquille O’Neal announced not to the media, but his beloved fans, he was about to retire. “We did it. Nineteen years baby. I want to thank you very much, that’s why I’m telling you first, I’m about to retire. Love you, talk to you soon,” O’Neal declared. “Shaq”, “The Diesel”, “The Big Fella”, “The Shaqtus”, “Shaq Fu” or what ever you want to call the 7’1″, 325 pound big man, by far was not at the very top-tier end of the all-time players list respect to skill. Although, you are uneducated if you think that he has not left a lasting impression on the National Basketball Association. However, the fan favorite, constant entertainment, business man, and entrepreneur, will not fade away – he was never known for the fade-away anyway – from media attention.

The Diesel hinted when he took questions from reporters yesterday that the official retirement press conference would take place on Friday, leaving all media and fans alike a little time to piece together what Shaq’s Legacy might amount to. His career numbers are, quite frankly, eye-boggling for a man who has a free throw stroke as hideous as Charles Barkley’s golf swing. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that 28,596 points (fifth all-time), winning the 2000 MVP award, winning the 2000-2002 NBA Finals MVP awards, and having 13 seasons of 20 PPG and 10 RPG (most in NBA History), is very impressive for a player that is never discussed as one of the premier players or someone who will leave a lasting impression on the game. This because of the main criticism he faced; that his size made up for his lack of extreme skill at the sport.

For most, trying to analyze the Shaqtus’s career and putting his Legacy into perspective is extremely difficult. Don’t forget – despite his game resembling that of an old, lanky man in the past few years – what he did in his prime with the Los Angeles Lakers. During the early 1990’s, the era that has been tagged as the “Jordan Years”, O’Neal resided in Orlando. The O’Neal and Penny Hardaway led Magic continued to improve, but struggled to reached the playoffs. Their luck turned, however, in 1995 when O’Neal had the highest NBA Average (29.3 PPG) and their efforts turned toward bringing a championship back to Orlando. They reached the 95′ Finals – facing the Houston Rockets led by Hakeem Olajuwan and Clyde Drexler and advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals the following year – facing the Chicago Bulls led by Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen – losing each series in quick fashion.

O’Neal then became a free agent and was traded to the Lakers for the 96′ – 97′ season. At this point he would begin to get less touches, but for the better of the team. In 1998 Kobe Bryant, then a teenage superstar, was drafted to assist the Diesel in his efforts to win the Larry O’Brien trophy another time for the city of Los Angeles.

Now, after Jordan’s second retirement, there was finally a new dynasty in the NBA. O’Neal and Bryant led the Lakers to 3 straight championships (2000-2002) and O’Neal won the Finals MVP each of these years. Although, success quickly turned into ego in LA as O’Neal was out for a good portion of the 2003 season and Bryant became their number 1 man.

Injuries, such as the one in 03′, started to nag Shaq when he demanded a trade only to wind up as a member of the Miami Heat. A rising star in Dwayne Wade and one more decent run left in the Big Fella yielded a solid Miami Heat team. With some magic – not that in Orlando – and help from role player, they successfully brought an NBA Championship back to South Beach for the first and only time in franchise history defeating the Dallas Mavericks in six after being down two games to none.

After his fourth ring things for “Shaq Fu” simply died down. A whole lot of nothing happened in his future stops in Phoenix, Cleveland, and Boston after the 2008 season with the Heat. Each team at each stop was stacked to begin each season that Shaq arrived; although, “Shaq Fu” received no more rings in addition to the four he had already obtained. The only positive spin out of the trades is the buzz he received whenever he would move to a new team – especially when he moved to Cleveland.

Now the season is drawing to a close, as is O’Neal’s career, and he claims his Achilles is the culprit behind his retirement – hmmm, perhaps the fact that he is 39 might have something to do with it? I digress from the reasons for his retirement to point out that it has been a successful career for Shaquille O’Neal. Despite the fact that in a couple of years no one will remember the Big Fellas stats, rather his fights with other famous figures (Charles Barkley and Dennis Rodman) and freakish free throw stroke, Shaq will struggle to make it into the top-50 on some people’s list because he never seemed to hit a shot from outside of 8 feet. He will be remembered for his wacky post-game interviews, TV shows and specials, and powerful, backboard-breaking dunks, but not his .050% three-point shooting percentage.

That will never grow old!

Ultimately, look back and make your decision on this beast’s career and legacy. Will it be everlasting? Will we compare the coming big men in the league to this monumental figure? Will anyone have an uglier, more uncomfortable looking foul shot? Only time will tell.

Comments
  1. footballnutz17 says:

    That vid will always be remembered by me….It’s a sad thing that he left, he was awesome..

    Very well-written article, keep this up man nice job

  2. footballnutz17 says:

    Ahh I’m @TheSportzGuru, ill be following you shortly

  3. unc0012 says:

    I like that unlike a lot of other older athletes, Shaq knows when it is time to retire

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