Should Shaq Retire?

By Dennis Berry

Time for Shaq to Retire?

At some point everything ends. That is a question for Shaquille O'Neal to think about; is it time for him to retire?

With Celtics coach Doc Rivers announced on Wednesday afternoon that Shaq would be doubtful for game five and perhaps the rest of the playoffs. Then before the game he was moved to inactive. A game that Boston would lose 97-87 to Miami and thus ending their season.

O'Neal missed the majority of the second half of the season for a strained right calf. It was an injury that did not appear serious all the way back in February. It never fully healed and limited O'Neal to only 37 games this year. Boston hoped to have him back in time for the playoffs. It did not happen.

O'Neal was a non-factor for the Celtics in the playoffs. He did not play in the first round against New York. He played eight minutes in game four and scored two points. In game five he only played three and half minutes. Not what you expect from a man who has averaged 37.5 minutes and 24.3 points and 11.6 rebounds in 17 years of post season play.

That right there is the problem for O'Neal, he has gotten old. He has played 18 years in the NBA. Age eventually catches up to every athlete. It does not matter what sport it is. Father time will get you.

He was the first overall pick in the 1992 NBA Draft by Orlando. He would take the league by storm. Back boards were not safe, for that matter the basket equipment itself was not safe as evidence when he brought a goal down during a game at New Jersey. The numbers he put up in his first four year in Orlando speak for themselves.

Year Games Played Points Rebounds Field Goal %
1992-1993 81 23.4 13.9 0.562
1993-1994 81 29.3 13.2 0.599
1994-1995 79 29.3 11.4 0.583
1995-1996 54 26.6 11 0.573
Avarages 73 27.2 12.4 0.579

When Shaq moved to Los Angeles he was coming into his prime as a player, but the success did not come right away. The Lakers did not win a title until 2000. It took Phil Jackson becoming coach to handle the egos of not only O'Neal, but teammate Kobe Bryant. Once those two learned to play together in the triangle offense, the Lakers became unbeatable.

The Lakers won three straight titles. Shaq was the MVP of the Finals each year. He was also named the MVP of the NBA in 2000. Shaq put up impressive numbers in L.A. but he also became to miss a lot of games.

Year Games Played Points Rebounds Field Goal %
1996-1997 51 26.2 12.5 0.557
1997-1998 60 28.3 11.4 0.584
1998-1999 49 26.3 10.7 0.576
1999-2000 79 29.7 13.6 0.574
2000-2001 74 28.7 12.7 0.572
2001-2002 67 27.2 10.4 0.579
2002-2003 67 27.5 11.1 0.574
2003-2004 67 21.5 11.5 0.584
Avarages 64 26.9 11.8 0.575

After the Finals loss to Detroit in 2004 and Phil Jackson left the Lakers, O'Neal left as well and became a member of the Miami Heat. It was there that Shaq had his last dominate season. His first year in Miami he averaged 22.9 points and 10.4 rebounds a game. In 2006 he helped the Heat win their first NBA title. He would spend three full seasons and part of another there before being traded to Phoenix. His numbers in Miami were respectable.

Year Games Played Points Rebounds Field Goal %
2004-2005 73 22.9 10.4 0.601
2005-2006 59 20 9.8 0.601
2006-2007 40 17.3 7.4 0.591
2007-2008 33 14.2 10.6 0.574
Avarages 51 18.6 9.4 0.593

The last four seasons O'Neal has just not been his normal dominate self on the court. He has played for three different teams over this span: the Phoenix Suns, Cleveland Cavaliers, and the Boston Celtics. Each season his numbers and games played have gone down in the last three full seasons. Injuries have kept him out and not able to produce like he used to.

Year Team Games Played Points Rebounds Field Goal %
2007-2008 Phoenix 28 12.9 10.6 0.512
2005-2006 Phoenix 75 17.8 8.4 0.595
2006-2007 Cleveland 53 12 6.7 0.496
2007-2008 Boston 37 9.2 4.8 0.557
Avarages 48 12.9 7.6 0.54

You can really see the numbers decline in the post season. In his first 11 playoff appearances O'Neal played in 158 games. He averaged 26.8 points and 12.4 rebounds in those games. Since 2005 when he began playing for Miami he has been in the playoffs six times and has played in 58 postseason games. He has averaged 14.1 points and 6.8 rebounds in those games. The numbers really drop off because he played in only two postseason games with Boston and scored only two points.

Should Shaq Retire?
Cleveland's Shaquille O'Neal in Atlanta Hawks 106-101 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland.

So now the question is what is next for O'Neal? Will he try to come back next year and play again? Should he even try?

For fans it is very had to see one of their favorites struggle at the end of their career. There are many examples of this happening over time. Willie Mays in a Mets uniform. Jerry Rice in a Seahawks uniform. Michael Jordan in a Wizards uniform.

Perhaps it is time for Shaq to move one. No one wants to watch O'Neal struggle on the court. Let us remember "Shaq Diesel" for being the most dominate big man in the NBA. Not as a side attraction for a team.

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