On Friday, Shaquille O'Neal plopped the massive collection of muscle that is his body in front of a webcam and told his fans that this past season, his 19th campaign and one that was pocked with injuries, would be his last. The friendly giant has been an institution in pro basketball - for a few years my mother worked out in a Shaq shirt she got in a box of Cheerios, if that's any indication of his popularity - since he began tearing down hoops for shits and giggles during the Clinton administration. But he was more than a basketball player, as those who own a rare VHS copy of the "hit" 1996 film Kazaam know quite well. Here are my favorite Shaq moments of all time.
The Skinny Shaq: The year was 1990 and a lanky man-child named Shaquille O'Neal put on some shorty LSU shorts and began blocking any shot that came near the basket. He once blocked 12 shots against Loyola Marymount in a game that freshman season (he did allow Hank Gathers to score 48 points in the same contest, but whatevs) and did it as a slender, sexy young man. Soon, he began eating.
Big Timing Kobe: They couldn't be much different. One, a teenage hoops prodigy who was taking the NBA by storm and the other the most dominant big man the game had seen in a long while. Kobe and Shaq were more fit to be characters in an awful sitcom than teammates, but that didn't stop them from winning three world championships.
Kazaam: Shaq wanted to be a movie star. Instead, he made this fabulously awful film in which he plays a genie. With his newly found free time, we can only hope that he doesn't go back to "acting." Unless, that is, they get him as the new B.A. Baracus in any future remakes of the A Team.
Breaking Bad: If you think there's anything more entertaining in the world of sports than a man destroying a basketball hoop by way of a slam dunk, you're wrong. Every so often, a dunk is so majestic that the hoop on which it was performed simply ceases to exist. Shaq spent his first few seasons indiscriminately destroying hoops - not just backboards but the entire hoop - merely because he was strong enough to do so.
You Have the Right to Remain Shorter Than Me: If you've won a total of four championships, three MVP awards and made millions and millions of dollars, the next logical step is to... well, become a police officer, of course. That's exactly what Shaq did and to this day he is still qualified to be a Miami Beach reserve police officer.
Shaq Diesel: Yeah, he'd only played one season of basketball, but Shaq was already exploring other avenues, including the release of his first rap album which led to him wearing an array of vests and singing almost-rhyming lyrics like "Wave your hands and pump your fist/When I'm on the court you know it's strictly 'swish."