May 11, 2011
It's very possible that Shaquille O'Neal(notes), the greatest combination of size, explosiveness, athleticism and talent that this league has ever seen, has played his last NBA game. I'll have to hold off on the retirement column, I suppose, because it probably deserves about 4,500 words. Maybe throw an extra zero in there.
In following WEEI's Paul Flannery's Twitter account, it appears as if Shaq will be out for Wednesday night's Game 5 between the Celtics and Heat. Paul quotes Boston coach Doc Rivers as he discusses Shaquille's attempt to come back from an Achilles injury:
"He's done everything you possibly can do to get healthy. It just never healed, and now every time he plays it gets worse."
This is after O'Neal managed just 12 labored minutes against the Heat in Games 3 and 4 of the series, his first time spent on the court in more than a month. We were right in thinking that a healthy O'Neal could positively affect Boston's limping offense -- his ability to draw attention, finish and set screens would be a huge boost to the sagging C's -- but there's just no way the Shaq we saw in Games 3 and 4 will be any sort of help anytime soon. Even if the Celtics miraculously turn it around and make it to the NBA finals.
Then the season ends, the lockout hits and 39-year-old Shaq the mercenary will be looking to join his fifth team in five seasons for 2011-12. Two out of the three things listed in the preceding sentence are probably true. Sadly.