Shaquille O’Neal is done. I wouldn’t be surprised if he sought a buyout after this season, his 16th. There comes a time for all the great ones. Michael Jordan played 16 seasons, including the two awful ones in Washington. Wilt Chamberlain played 14. Bill Russell played 13. David Robinson played 14. Hakeem Olajuwon played 18 but was a shadow of himself in his 16th, barely averaging 10 points. Moses Malone played 19, but was in Milwaukee for his 16th season. Anyone remember that?
Perhaps the only great big man not to have major injuries who was effective beyond 16 seasons was Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and he was noteworthy for his conditioning. O’Neal has been noteworthy for being out of shape. It’s more difficult for big men because they play (or are supposed to play) 94 feet. Guards go mostly foul line to foul line.
O’Neal didn’t reach double figures in any category in his first two games, shooting 40 percent from the field and 14 percent on free throws. Scouts have commented on his lack of mobility.
“I did what I was supposed to,” O’Neal said of passing out of double-teams.
No. Good big men can move and beat double-teams. O’Neal doesn’t seem able to do that anymore. Miami, by the way, lost again Sunday to Charlotte and is on a 16-game losing streak that includes the last two last season, a playoff sweep by the Bulls, an 0-7 mark in exhibitions and an 0-3 to start the season. Dwyane Wade had better be a combination of Jordan and Scottie Pippen when he returns.