Nineteen years and four championship rings later, Shaquille O’Neal is finally calling it quits.
O’Neal spoke directly to fans through Twitter last night in a short video about his decision, saying, “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.”
After years of battling knee injuries and a recent reccurring Achilles problem, the 39-year-old athlete claims that time has caught up him. O’Neal, known as Shamroq in Boston, signed a two-year contract with the Celtics last year, but his chronic Achilles injury will keep him from fulfilling the deal. “I really, really thought about coming back,” he said, “but this Achilles is very damaged, and if I had [surgery] done, the recovery would be so long, we’d have same outcome as this last year — everyone sitting around and waiting for me.
Fans may have been shocked by the announcement, but not as surprised as his team. The spokesperson for the Celtics says that O’Neal had not notified the team of his plans. However, his teammates appear to be happy for the retiree. “It was a pleasure to play with the Big Fella,” says teammate Kevin Garnett. “It was most definitely a lifetime experience. It’s love all day, and I wish him nothing but the best.”
In retirement, O’Neal plans on going back to school to pursue his doctorate in human resource development at Barry University in Miami.
What a heck of a career. It’s been no secret that Shaq hasn’t been himself for the last couple of years because of injuries, so we think this was a wise decision. He’ll be leaving behind quite a legacy.
Read more at ESPN.