Could Shaq Redeem His Career With Another Dance With the Los Angeles Lakers?

You’ll have to forgive me, but when Shaquille O'Neal retires, my most prominent memory of him probably won't be the image of him in a Los Angeles Lakers uniform, proudly clutching his third-consecutive Finals MVP award.

It's not that I’ve forgotten the admiration I once felt toward him.

During the time O'Neal and Kobe Bryant were tearing through the NBA, and forging a new dynastic chapter in Lakers history, I was a 12-year-old kid who had finally just hit his growth spurt. I towered over most of the other kids in my grade, and during recess, I’d block shots and forcibly take my points in the paint.

They dubbed me, “Baby Shaq.”

I remember all those memories fondly, some as vividly as though they had occurred yesterday, but time moves on. Unfortunately, the passing of time includes several negatives, none worse than aging.

Don’t get me wrong, sometimes aging can be almost beautiful. Both inside the sports world and out of it, those who accept the inevitable often become admirable, beloved figures.

Think of the way David Robinson quickly adjusted to Tim Duncan’s emergence,  eventually even accepting role-player status before winning his second NBA title with the San Antonio Spurs in 2003, and walking off into the sunset.

O'Neal, on the other hand, has become increasingly embittered over the years. He has taken the same goofy, comedic antics that endeared him to so many fans earlier in his career, and has made those traits sour and aggressive. In doing so, he’s taken aim at old teammates and coaches alike, making new enemies wherever possible along the way.

I just hope you haven’t blinked during the course of O'Neal's career.

In what seemed like a flash, he went from being one of the most dominant and successful players in the history of the game, to being one of the most bitter, limelight-lusting athlete...

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