Shaq was one of a kind

  • Updated: June 2, 2011 - 7:13 AM

Shaquille O'Neal retired Wednesday, but he will never be forgotten because of his outsized game and even more outsized personality.

NBA great Shaquille O'Neal announced his retirement via a tweet Wednesday.

Photo: Susan Ragan, Associated Press

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Shaquille O'Neal kind of, sort of officially retired Wednesday -- doing it as only Shaq would, via a new social media tool called Tout.

O'Neal put up crazy statistics and left an indelible mark on the game of basketball -- for better and for worse. In honor of the big fella, here are five things we will remember the most about him:

1. The sheer dominance, because of his incredible size and strength, at his peak: A healthy Shaq in his prime was a sight to behold. Listed at 7-1 and tipping the scales at 300-plus pounds, he was virtually unguardable even by men who would be giants to almost anyone else. The basketball looked like a grape in his hands. It just wasn't fair.

2. The awful, awful free throw shooting: O'Neal retired with a 52.7 percent career free-throw percentage and a 58.2 percent career field-goal percentage. He has 28,596 career points, good for fifth all-time. That number would be way higher if he hadn't missed more than 5,000(!) career free throws. Former Gopher Trevor Winter played exactly one career NBA game -- committing five fouls in five minutes for the Wolves vs. the Lakers in the ultimate Hack-a-Shaq effort on March 16, 1999.

3. The bitter break-up with Kobe: Shaq and Kobe Bryant won three consecutive NBA titles together with the Lakers, but O'Neal went to Miami in 2004 after a power struggle between the two Alpha Dogs resulted in a "he goes or I go" situation. Years later, Shaq famously rapped about Kobe and the Lakers losing to the Celtics in the 2008 finals -- including a line about O'Neal and the flavor of his hind quarters relative to Bryant. Kobe, though, got the last laugh: He won two titles without Shaq, while O'Neal only won one without Kobe (2006 Heat).

4 Marketing genius: Shaq might have been an awful actor and a terrible rapper, but he was -- and remains -- a savvy businessman and a shrewd evaluator of which way the wind is blowing. He was a transcendent superstar, always ahead of his time when it came to "getting" fans. One can only wonder what would have happened if Shaq was at his playing peak when Twitter came to prominence.

5 Held on too long: The end was painful to watch. Shaq's massive body caught up to him fast, and his role on would-be contenders (Cleveland in 2009-10, Boston in 2010-11) became that of a sideshow. We'll still remember Shaq for his incredible prime, but his Golden Years are hard to shake right now.

MICHAEL RAND

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