Shaq leaves a gaping hole in NBA
We will miss him. He won’t go away, of course, because Shaquille O’Neal is not as aggrieved as Bill Russell or as uncomfortable as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar or as retiring as Moses Malone, and he and the spotlight will come to some sort of agreement to stay together, somehow. Shaq is too big to disappear completely.
But he will be missed, swinging around the NBA every season, a rolling carnival show. When Shaquille O’Neal retires Friday at the age of 39, he will leave a void almost as oversized as he was, in every way.
After all, who can be like Shaq? Dwight Howard tries, but he is neither as good nor as funny nor as complicated, which were the pillars of The Big Aristotle’s appeal. No big man has ever been more comfortable in his own skin, or had so effortless a grasp of the reality of celebrity, or had the common touch that Shaq enjoyed. There are still pictures of Shaq, who broke in with the Magic in 1992, plastered to the walls of various Orlando burger shacks and burrito joints, smiling with the owner, making funny faces. They still love him, after all these years. (Marc Serota/Reuters)