Even though she hasn’t exactly spoken to Shaq about his future, his mother Lucille believes he might return next season. (The Times Picayune)
“He went there to help them win a championship, and they didn’t do that this year,’’ Lucille said. “It bothered him so much that he could not play. He felt like he let the Boston team down and the community down, so I could believe he’s going back to Boston. He’s not in a place to be traded or anything like that.’’
Lucille added O’Neal hasn’t indicated to her what he plans to do.
“I don’t know because Shaquille has got such passion for the game,’’ Lucille said. “(Retirement) we’ve always told him that’s up to him. Whatever decision he makes, we’re still going to be behind him 100 percent.’’
It’s somewhat admirable to watch Shaq hobble around on more or less one leg, doing whatever he can to make it back to the court even though his body refuses to cooperate. It is. But it’s also sad. I don’t want to say it takes away from his legacy, because any amount of late-career injuries can’t change the fact that an in-his-prime Shaq could get 35 and 15 in his sleep. But there’s a generation of children who only know Shaq as “that huge dude whose body parts come apart more often than Mr. Potato Head’s.”
If he’s got anything left, anything at all, the Celtics could use him. He’s cheap, his contract will expire in 2012 (when the Celtics presumably want to rebuild/reload), and, most importantly, he’s still a man-mountain. If Jermaine O’Neal retires (he’s considering it), the Celtics will have exactly zero centers entering the free agency period. But even though it’s admirable, spending half the season in rehab just to play 20 postseason minutes isn’t how a superstar should end his career. Smart money says Shaq will retire, regardless of what his mother says.