Shaquille O'Neal, a 15-time All-Star who struggled to get on the court last season because of injuries, tweeted Wednesday that he is going to retire after a 19-year career in which he won four titles and the 2000 league Most Valuable Player award.
O'Neal wrote on Twitter shortly before 2:45 p.m. that, "im retiring." It included a link to a 16-second video in which he says, "We did it; 19 years, baby. Thank you very much. That's why I'm telling you first: I'm about to retire. Love you. Talk to you soon."
An inveterate prankster who gave himself a new nickname — or several — in each of his six NBA cities, O'Neal did not notify the Celtics, his latest team, of his plans. He played just 37 games this year, the first of a two-year deal at the veteran's minimum salary, making just three brief appearances after Feb. 1.
O'Neal, 39, retires fifth all-time with 28,596 points, 12th with 13,099 rebounds and a .582 field goal percentage that is second only to Artis Gilmore among players with more than 2,000 baskets. His free throw percentage of .527 — well, now is not the time to dwell on that.
"I'm a little bit sad," said Pat Riley, the Heat president who also was the coach when O'Neal won a title in Miami. "It's the end of an absolute 20-year career. Great, great player. . . . I'm sure Shaq will do something big and beyond."
O'Neal's contributions went far beyond his presence on the court.
One of the most charismatic players in NBA history, O'Neal was a franchise-saver when the Magic made him the No. 1 pick in the 1992 draft. He took them from the lottery to the playoffs in two years and led them to the NBA finals in his third year before being swept by the Rockets.
O'Neal signed with the Lakers in 1996 and had his greatest success there, winning three titles alongside Kobe Bryant and coach Phil Jackson. But amid tension between O'Neal and Bryant after a loss to the Pistons in the finals, O'Neal was traded to the Heat in the summer of 2004.
After 31/2 years in Miami, a tenure that included his fourth NBA championship, O'Neal became a veteran-for-hire, moving to Phoenix and then Cleveland and finally Boston. But he couldn't deliver another title for Steve Nash and Amare Stoudemire with the Suns, with LeBron James with the Cavaliers or with the Celtics' Big Three of Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen.
"What a career for Shaq Diesel!!" James wrote on Twitter. "The most dominating force to ever play the game. Great person to be around as well. Comedy all the time!!"
RAPTORS: The team announced it will not exercise its option on Jay Triano's contract but will retain him as a consultant and a special assistant. Triano was 87-142 in his three seasons as coach.
ROCKETS: Kevin McHale, a Hall of Famer who most recently served as a TV analyst, was hired as Houston's third coach since 2003.