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Shaquille O'Neal: basketball's larger-than-life big man calls it a career

Shaquille O'Neal, one of the most dominant centers in pro basketball history, announced his retirement Wednesday. Both on and off the court, he was an original not likely to be duplicated.

This April 19, 2007, file photo shows Shaquille O'Neal, then of the Miami Heat, talking to the news media following a team basketball practice in Miami.

Lynne Sladky/AP/File

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Shaquille O'Neal has retired from professional basketball, and Stu Templin, for one, is not shedding any tears.

A Los Angeles Lakers fan enjoying coffee at a local doughnut shop, Mr. Templin loves that O’Neal helped the Lakers win three National Basketball Association championships, but when it comes to O'Neal's style, his assessment is withering.

“He was completely predictable and played like an animal,” Templin says. "Fake left, fake right, back up into his opponent, turn and stuff the ball. Bor-ING!”

Sean Deveney of the Sporting News, however, has a different take: O'Neal was nothing less than a revolution of size and athleticism, he said on an online video. The NBA had never seen his like before.

It is a taste of the different views of the 19-year NBA veteran who was larger than life in so many ways. As a basketball player in his prime, he often seemed to be his own continent, geologic in his vastness, primal in his raw power. As a man, he was his own industry, spawning films, rap music, and even a television show whose sole premise was O'Neal challenging various athletes in their own sports.


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