THE END OF AN ERA…AND A TRIBUTE:
You may never see another Shaq again. Forget the size, athleticism, and power. Forget the championships, the Finals MVPs, and the 28,596 points. Forget the commercials, the rapping and Kazaam.
This guy was the King of Giving Himself Nicknames. Hell, “Shaq” is a nickname.
“In light of today, I am retiring all my nicknames. The Big Aristotle, Shaq-Fu, The Big Shamrock, The Big Cactus, The Diesel, and finally, the one and only, original, never to be duplicated or replicated … Superman. From now on, you can call me The Big AARP. Association for the Advancement of Retired Persons.”
You forget how he got half of these. While some are regional - “The Big Agave” - others need an explanation.
“’The Big Aristotle’ was coined the day I won the MVP last year . I stole a quote from that Greek philosopher cat: ‘Excellence is not a singular act, but a habit. You are what you repeatedly do.’”
“Wilt Chamberneezy” needs no further back story. “The Real Deal Shaquille O’Neal” had an intrinsic rhyming property that lends itself to a great nickname. I would have thought there would never be a way to beat “Shaq Daddy,” but he tried. Oh, how he did try.
“’The Big Stock Exchange.’ I start off at one price. Every now and then I’ll go down, but eventually I’ll go back up”
An apt comparison. Let’s stay financial for a second.
“‘The Big IPO.’ Put your money on me. Because when I go public, we all gonna make money.”
He called himself the “The Big Quotatious” for his propensity to provide great soundbites - like the kind of soundbites that end with a guy nicknaming himself “The Big Quotatious.” If you couldn’t tell, “Big” seemed to be a recurring trend. Shaq had a game-saving steal in Orlando, which spawned, “The Big Felon.” “The Big Sewer” because he “had a lot of sh*t.” What about the time Shaq made his free throws, and referred to himself post-game as “The Big Havlicek?”
“Can’t forget ‘The Big Antarctica’ because I’m so cold.”
Don’t forget the abbreviations. “M.D.E.” meant Most Dominant Ever. “L.C.L.” meant Last Center Left. Wondering why did Shaq called himself “Shaqovic?”
“If you go around the league, anybody with the last name ‘vich’ is a great shooter. Radmanovic, Vujacic…all those ‘iches.’”
Makes sense. He wasn’t without a misstep here or there. After “terrorizing” Keith Van Horn in the 2002 NBA Finals, Shaq actually said the phrase “Osama bin Shaq” out loud. Not his finest locker room hour. When Shaq “fought” Oscar de la Hoya on an episode of his reality show Shaq Vs., O’Neal was coached by Freddie Roach, Manny Pacquiao’s world-class trainer, and dubbed himself “Manny Shaquiao.”
My personal favorite? In 2000, after eliminating foreign-born centers Vlade Divac, Rik Smits and Arvydas Sabonis on his way to the NBA championship, Shaq called himself, “The Big Deporter.”
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again - you’ll see another Michael Jordan before you see another Shaquille O’Neal. Thanks, one last time, Shaq.
(for the rest of the Shaq Retirement Tribute - click here)