There's no doubt that Shaquille O'Neal will go down as one of the greatest centers in the history of basketball, but his storied 19-year career didn't end in glory (as soon as it becomes official and Shaq retires).
In fact, it ended in sheer disappointment. O'Neal, who played in only 37 games with the Boston Celtics this season, struggled through the final two years of his NBA career with the Cleveland Cavaliers and Celtics, respectively.
O'Neal played in 53 games for the Cavaliers in the 2009-10 season, averaging 12 points and 6.7 rebounds. While O'Neal was brought to Cleveland to help LeBron James win a title (he even said so himself), he and the Cavaliers were eliminated by the Celtics in the second round of the playoffs.
Searching for one last shot at a championship, O'Neal signed a two-year deal with the Celtics prior to the 2010-11 season. O'Neal was effective in the first part of the season, but was torn down by injuries as the season progressed.
O'Neal finished his only year with the Celtics with 341 points and 178 rebounds, all while posting career lows in scoring (9.2 points per game) and rebounding (4.8 RPG).
Clearly, the Diesel's body just couldn't keep up with his spirit, which certainly intended on bringing another championship title to the city of Boston.
However, O'Neal won't be remembered well in Boston simply because of his passion for the team, the fan base and for winning. In this town, those who can't deliver championships are often swept under the rug of history.
In my book, O'Neal will be remembered in the same light as Rasheed Wallace, who latched on with the Celtics prior to the 2009-10 season. Sure, Wallace was more effective than Shaq in the postseason (O'Neal played only six minutes in two playoff games, averaging one point and zero rebounds), but in the end, Sheed couldn't help bring another banner to Boston, either.
It's truly sad to see a player of O'Neal's caliber end his career with such mediocrity. After all, this is a man who scored 28,596 points, collected 13,099 rebounds and blocked 2,732 shots in 19 seasons.
Yet instead of riding into the sunset as one of the NBA's all-time greatest centers and players, O'Neal limps home to his Sudbury mansion without another defining championship ring. What a true shame.
Bostonians should thank Shaq for at least giving it another shot, but it was clear that the Big Shamrock just didn't have anything left in the tank for Celtics fans.
Sorry it didn't work out, big man. Enjoy your retirement (and see you on ESPN).