It’s no secret that Shaquille O’Neal’s tenure with the Boston Celtics didn’t turn out quite the way the legendary big man had hoped. But the Big Shamrock apparently had far grander plans for his time in green than anyone knew at the time.
O’Neal, now an analyst for the NBA on TNT, recently told The Boston Globe’s Gary Washburn that he initially wanted the 2011-12 season to be the official Shaquille O’Neal retirement tour, similar to the one former teammate Kobe Bryant currently is in the midst of.
That did not happen, however, as O’Neal played in just 37 games for the Celtics during a 2010-11 season marred by multiple Achilles injuries. Rather than spend a summer rehabbing, only to return as a role player, O’Neal decided to call it a career right then and there.
“I always knew I was going to end my career with an injury,” O’Neal told Washburn. “I always knew it. I ripped (the tendon) in half. I said, ‘You know what? I’m not rehabbing, I’m not coming back. I’m done.’
“For me, it didn’t feel right averaging 27 (points) and then being a role player averaging 10. I just didn’t feel like the Shaq anymore.
“I wish I would have had a Shaq Tour because I know it would have been fun. I would have gotten a lot of gifts.”
Another interesting note from Washburn’s chat with O’Neal: The surefire Hall of Famer said he tried to convince Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge not to trade Kendrick Perkins for Jeff Green in February 2011 — a decision that’s viewed as one of Ainge’s worst as a Celtics executive.
Boston bowed out to the Miami Heat in the second round of the playoffs that season, and Green never quite reached his potential with the C’s before being traded to the Memphis Grizzlies last January.
Thumbnail photo via Charles Krupa/Associated Press