Shaquille O’Neal Is Out; Ricky Rubio Is In

Shaq. Shaqfu. Shaqtus. The Big Shamrock. Shaq-deezy. The Diesel. Superman. And of course, Kazaam. Shaquille O’Neal retired today after 19 seasons, the Big Shamrock himself finally calling it quits via the new social media platform Tout (never heard of it) – leaving us with one of, if not the most dominant, big man careers of all-time. Forgot what Shaq was before he started looking like a “before” picture from a Nutrisystem commercial? We’re talking four rings, fifth all-time in scoring, three Finals MVPs, a 58% career field-goal percentage, one MVP, Rookie of the Year, thirteen 20 and 10 seasons, and one famous late-night club freestyle where he requested his favorite former teammate share how his “ass tastes.” If you weren’t a Magic or Laker fan, The Big Daddy will forever be remembered as the dude who destroyed your bigs – it was the drop-step, spin-n-tear-down-the-backboard stuff, the Charmin-soft baby hook with the right hand and who could ever forget that perfect free throw form? The NBA created a defense (the “Hack-a-Shaq”) based solely on the idea that there was not a human in the league (check that, not a life form on earth) that could guard Shaquille O’Neal straight-up. Hack-a-Shaq was a refusal to guard him. A “helllll no, that dude is wayyy too big.” He was the guy that never needed to develop a 15-foot jumper (“I’ll just stay down here, thanks”), never needed to learn to make other teams pay for sending him to the line. He was the guy that didn’t give a s***. And that’s been the best part about watching Shaq over the last 19 years. When he first came into the league in 1992, the NBA had never seen a player quite like Shaq and as he bounces in 2011, we can almost be sure that the league will never see one quite like him again. Adios, Big Agave – we know you enjoyed the ride just as much as we did … So what happens when you drop Game 1 of the NBA Finals, you miss every open shot ever and then you find out that your one big-time, balls-out, blockbuster superstar tore a tendon in his finger? We’re thinking you probably pray that there’s nowhere else to go but up (or if you’re Mark Cuban, you probably buy something). It certainly looked like rock bottom the other night for the Mavs after their fluid offense was slowly asphyxiated by that stifling Miami D. We’ve got a feeling that Dallas should play better tonight (Dirk‘s tear is on his non-shooting hand), but we’re not willing to put a wager on it. Game 2, tonight on ABC. Directly before the Finals take two more nights off for a vacation in Vegas. Because that’s the only reason we can think to explain this scheduling … Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to Scottie Pippen yesterday: Take a seat, young fella. I’M the NBA’s all-time leading scorer … While we’re getting all sentimental, we’ll have to commemorate Kevin McHale‘s departure from the TNT/NBA TV booth, as he’s been officially announced as the next coach of the Rockets. McHale and Chris Webber combined for some of the most scintillating, intelligent discourse about the NBA that we’ve ever experienced. Just kidding. But they are both entertaining as hell. McHale, we’ll only miss you have half as much as Shaq, but hey, we’ll still miss you anyway … At some point in this draft process, the Jazz were going to bring in Michael Stockton, the son of John Stockton, for a workout. They had to. We were sure of it. And there he was yesterday, working out for Utah’s brass. What we aren’t sure of is if he was setting dirty screens, dissecting people with pick-n-rolls and rocking nut-huggers … Jimmy Kimmel: “Every day, the NBA is looking more and more like someone Jesse James would leave Sandra Bullock for” … Toronto coach Jay Triano will not be coaching the team next year, but will stay around as a consultant … And oh yeah, Ricky Rubio has agreed to come over and play for Minnesota next season. We’re not Kahn-ing you either … We’re out like “The Big Baryshnikov.”

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