The great Shaquille O’Neal announced his retirement yesterday via video on Tout.com. The 7 foot 1 inch behemoth of a man decided to call it quits at the age of 39 after 19 spectacular seasons in the NBA because of an achilles injury. Shaq broke into the league as a lean 20-year-old out of Louisiana State University (LSU) with the Orlando Magic. After 4 years with the Magic, Shaq signed as a free agent with the Los Angeles Lakers and led them to 3 straight NBA Championships from 2000 to 2002, winning the Finals MVP Award in each year. In 2004, the Lakers traded Shaq to the Miami Heat. There, he teamed up with Dwyane Wade and went on to win his 4th NBA Championship in 2006. Shaq was again traded in 2008, this time midway through the season to the Phoenix Suns. After a season and a half with the Suns, he was again traded in 2009 to the Cleveland Cavaliers. Shaq spent one season with the Cavs and then signed as a free agent with Boston Celtics in 2010. Shaq was limited by injuries late in his career, playing in only 37 games for the Celtics.
Shaq ends his illustrious career with:
4 NBA Titles, 3 Finals MVPs, 1 MVP, a Rookie of the Year, 15x All-Star, 2 Scoring Titles, 8x All-NBA First Team, 2x All-NBA Second Team, 4x All-NBA Third Team, 3x All-Defensive Second Team, 3x NBA All-Star Game MVP, 5th Leading Scorer in NBA History
Shaquille O’Neal is way more than a spectacular basketball player, he’s one of the most beloved and entertaining athletes both on and off the court we’ve ever seen. Shaq provides great quotes and sound-bites on a consistent basis and is a very well-rounded individual. He released 5 rap albums, starred in 2 movies, and appeared in a plethora of television sitcoms. Shaq has also tapped into the reality television outlet, hosting his own show called Shaq Vs. Shaq has used many nicknames to connect with fans and media. He always has a smile on his face and seems to be a fun-loving guy who enjoys life. Shaq is definitely in the top 5 in terms of greatest centers of all-time and I wish him the best in whatever he decides to venture into in the future.
I leave you with some of my favorite Shaq nicknames:
The Big Aristotle (my favorite), The Diesel, Shaq Fu, The Big Daddy, The Big Shaqtus, The Big Shamrock, The Big Baryshnikov, The Big Leprechaun
To many, and I agree, the 2003 NBA Draft was the best NBA Draft ever. The 2003 Draft has produced 8 All-Stars and 4 All-NBA members including names like LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, David West, Chris Kaman, Josh Howard, and Mo Williams. Other non-all stars but solid NBA players to come out of this draft include Kirk Hinrich, TJ Ford, Nick Collison, Luke Ridnour, Boris Diaw, Carlos Delfino, Kendrick Perkins, Leandro Barbosa, Steve Blake, Willie Green, Keith Bogans, Travis Outlaw, Dahntay Jones, Matt Bonner, Zaza Pachulia, James Jones, Kyle Korver, the list goes on and on. But every draft has its busts and the 2003 NBA Draft is no different. The 3 busts I’m going to profile are the #9 pick Michael Sweetney, the #15 selection Reece Gaines, and the #16 pick Troy Bell.
The burly 6 foot 8 inch 270 lb power forward out of Georgetown was selected 9th overall by the New York Knicks in the 2003 NBA Draft. Sweetney had a great 3 year career at Georgetown, posting a career scoring average of over 18 ppg while shooting 55% from the field. Unfortunately, his NBA career has not been very successful. After playing in only 42 regular season games for the Knicks, Sweetney was traded to the Chicago Bulls in 2005. Sweetney always had weight issues which led him to not appear in a single game during the span of 2007 – 2009. The Boston Celtics invited him to training camp in 2009 but was later waived.
The 6 foot 6 inch 205 lb former Louisville standout did not have a very smooth NBA career, bouncing around to 3 teams in 3 years. Gaines was drafted by the Orlando Magic with the 15th overall pick in the 2003 NBA Draft. He appeared in only 38 games for the Magic before being traded midway through his rookie season to the Houston Rockets. Gaines played in only 10 games for the Rockets, mostly due to injuries, and was again traded in 2005 to the Milwaukee Bucks. Gaines didn’t play a whole lot during his 1 and a half seasons with the Bucks, totaling a combined 132 minutes in 23 games. From 2006 to 2009 Gaines played overseas in Italy. He was on a different team for each of his 3 years there. In 2009, Gaines played for the Bakersfield Jam (Los Angeles Lakers and Clippers affiliate) in the NBA D-League. Most recently, Gaines decided to go back and play professionally overseas, signing with JA Vichy of the French League in 2010.
The former 2-time NCAA All-American as well as 2-time Big East Player of the Year enjoyed a sensational college career at Boston College, finishing as Boston College’s all-time leading scorer. Bell was drafted by the Boston Celtics with the 16th overall pick in the 2003 NBA Draft but was immediately traded on draft night to the Memphis Grizzlies. He played in 6 games for the Grizzlies in his rookie year and was signed as a free agent in 2005 by the New Orleans/Oklahoma City Hornets. Bell was later waived by the Hornets during the 2005 preseason. Bell entered the NBA D-League Draft in 2006 and was selected with the 12th pick by the Albuquerque Thunderbirds (New Orleans Hornets and Orlando Magic affiliate) and later signed with the Austin Toros (San Antonio Spurs affiliate), also of the D-League. After his 2 year stint in the NBA D-League, Bell played professionally in Italy for 3 different teams from 2007 to 2010. Currently, Bell plays for Entente Orleanaise in France.