When Did Shaq Retire?
It’s no secret that getting to play in the NBA is not only the dream of many basketball players, but it’s also a tough one.
Out of the more than 16,000 college basketball players that are currently rostered at colleges around the country (which included Division 1, 2, and 3 schools) just over 100 of those athletes will go on to be given a spot in one of the 30 NBA teams that are currently operating in the United States.
Clearly, the odds are stacked against most players to get one of those coveted positions. So it’s no surprise that we, as fans, are fascinated by the people who get those spots and what they had to do to achieve them.
Shaq is a prime example of this. Despite the fact he had the height, the talent, and the drive to play basketball and play it well, he also had something else…grit. Let’s learn more about this legend, his career, and what led to his final days on the court.
1. Shaq Played for 19 Seasons in the NBA
Shaquille Rashaun O’Neal was born in 1972 in Newark, New Jersey. Though he spent most of his young life without his father in his life, he credits much of his early success as a student and basketball player to his mother, his eventual step-father, and the Boys and Girls Club in Newark for keeping him busy, keeping him playing basketball and keeping him off the streets.
Basketball was a passion for the 7 ft.1 in. Shaquille O’Neal. And that passion paid off.
After earning a basketball scholarship to Louisiana State University, Shaq went to play for the Tigers, but left college early when the NBA started heavily pursuing him. (He went on to finish his college degree even after beginning to play for the NBA.)
Shaq was immediately picked up by the Orlando Magic during the first-round draft pick. He would go on to have four successful seasons while in Orlando, playing as the team’s starting center and scoring an average of 29 points per game.
After Orlando, Shaq went on to play 7 seasons with the Los Angeles Lakers, signing an unprecedented seven-year, $121 million contract. He won many accolades during this time, from Most Valuable Player for the 1999-2000 season to being chosen for the All-Defensive Team in 2000.
Shaq left Orlando after the 2003 season and went to the Miami Heat, where he signed an extended contract after his first season, resulting in staying with the Heat for a total of six seasons.
After playing for the Heat, Shaq played for the Phoenix Suns for two seasons, where he was selected as a member of the all-NBA third team. But, since he wasn’t seeing the playing time he wanted, he went on to sign with the Cleveland Cavaliers for one season but didn’t see the playing time he had in the past, as certain injuries he had suffered were starting to catch up with him.
Shaquill O’Neal finished out his career with the Boston Celtics, signing a two-year contract with the team. He announced his retirement at the end of the season with a tweet on Twitter and retired to his home in Orlando.
2. Shaq Won a Total of 4 NBA Championships
During his impressively long, historical nineteen-year career, Shaquille O’Neal played for six different teams and won a total of four NBA championship rings over the course of that time.
His first championship win was during the 1999-2000 season while playing for the Los Angeles Lakers. They beat the Indiana Pacers, and Shaq averaged 30 points per playoff game.
His second championship came during the 2000-2001 NBA championship game against the Philadelphia 76ers. Shaq was once again the top scorer of the game and averaged 33 points during each round.
The third NBA championship ring came to Shaq in the 2001-2002 season, after his Lakers beat out the New Jersey Nets, where he averaged 36 points per game.
Shaq’s final championship ring came after he was traded to the Miami Heat and they beat out the Dallas Mavericks during the 2005-2006 season final.
3. Shaq Suffered Multiple Injuries Which Resulted in His Eventual Retirement
As with many professional athletes, Shaq sustained a fair number of injuries throughout his career. Eventually, despite surgeries, physical therapy, and rehab, those injuries began affecting his performance on the court enough to make him decide it was time to call it quits.
His first major injury was in 2002 when he suffered debilitating pain in his big right toe. After trying to play through the problem, he eventually had surgery for the issue, but it continued to be problematic for the rest of his career.
In 2010, after ongoing complications with his Achilles tendon and trying to play through a strained calf muscle, Shaq finally decided to retire at the end of the 2010-2011 season.