Boston Celtics: Retirement
“For 19 seasons, Shaquille O'Neal was literally and figuratively an NBA giant. On behalf of the NBA, its teams, and his millions of fans around the world, I want to thank Shaq for everything he has meant to the league and to the sport of basketball, both on and off the court. We wish him and his family all the best.”
In the final weeks of the the playoffs, O'Neal, over the objections of team physician Brian McKeon, had "more than five" cortisone shots in his Achilles in an attempt to play against the Heat.
"Doc (McKeon) kept telling me, 'No, no,' but I wanted to play so badly," O'Neal said. "My feeling was, 'If it ruptures, it ruptures.' The Celtics were so good to me I wanted to do everything I could to get back on the court for them."
Throughout his time on the sideline, Shaq said, he continued to do rehab as well as work on the treadmill and the exercise bike. He swam each evening at the Thoreau Club in Concord and shot a number of late-night free throws in at the Lincoln-Sudbury High School gymnasium across the street from his rented Sudbury home. He lost 35 pounds and was "feeling great everywhere except for that one little spot behind my heel."
Shaq said McKeon recommended surgery that would "clean up" the area around the Achilles, but O'Neal revealed the recovery time would be close to nine months.
"I really, really thought about coming back," he said, "but this Achilles is very damaged and if I had it done the recovery would be so long we'd have same outcome as this last year -- everyone sitting around and waiting for me.
"I didn't want to let people down two years in a row. I didn't want to hold Boston hostage again.
"I'm letting everybody know now so Danny (Ainge) and the organization can try to get younger talent. I would love to come back, but they say once the Achilles is damaged it's never the same. I don't want to take that chance."
O'Neal said his final months in Boston included some of the darkest days of his career because "I just hated to let the city of Boston down. I really grew to love the place. Everyone was so welcoming to me and treated me so great. They believed in me and they took care of me, especially the great people of Sudbury. I love that town."
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In the clip, O'Neal says, "We did it. Nineteen years, baby. I thank you very much and that's why I’m telling you first: I’m about to retire. Love you. Talk to you soon." O'Neal then flashes a peace sign and his signature smile before the camera pans to the window.
Click HERE to read the full story. Or HERE to watch the video of Shaq's announcement.
The pair have been practically inseparable throughout their careers. Drafted one year apart, O'Neal and Wallace were teammates for four seasons in Portland, then spent the better part of six seasons going head-to-head as Indiana and Detroit jockeyed for supremacy in the Central Division.
After Wallace latched on with the Celtics hoping to win a world title last year, O'Neal phoned for his perspective on joining a championship-caliber bandwagon.
"I talked to 'Sheed, I'll see him before I get out of town," O'Neal said Wednesday at his introductory press conference at the Sports Authority Training Center at HealthPoint. "He had a lot of great things to say about the organization. It was kind of a selling point, too, with him coming in and actually being here for a year. He understands the situation, the scenarios, and chemistry is always important. Chemistry could be an issue on any team. That's what Boston has, ahead of everyone, [the Celtics] have chemistry and they know what it takes."
And did O'Neal lobby for Wallace to come back from one more run at a title?
"I shot him a text and told him to come back for at least one more year," said O'Neal. "He didn't respond. I will see him and I'm going to push for him to come back. The more bigs the better. He brings something that a lot of bigs can't bring. When he locks in, he's tough to stop."
Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge later reiterated that the team expects Wallace to retire.
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