Shaq Vows to Soldier on When Surrendering is Probably the Better OptionShaquille O'Neal recently declared, "I am the son of an army drill sergeant, and when we enlist, we go full term. So I've got two years left on my term and after that, I'll be looking to do other things." Keep in mind that he will be paid $20 million a year to finish his "term" when he is obviously only worth a fraction of that amount at this point and when his retirement could free up salary cap space that the Miami Heat could use to sign younger players who might actually be able to help the team to win some games. Somehow, it hardly seems like the height of loyalty or altruism for O'Neal to soldier on under these circumstances.
O'Neal's approach is much different than how Larry Bird handled the end of his career. If Bird had waited a little longer to announce his retirement during the summer of 1992 he could have pocketed millions more in guaranteed roster bonus money--but Bird did not want to receive money that he felt he had not earned.
O'Neal used to be a great player and no one can deny that he earned the money that he received in previous seasons. However, for him to suggest that he is continuing to play now because of his loyalty and commitment to the team is disingenuous beyond belief. Prolonging his career does not benefit the Heat and, most likely, does O'Neal's body no favors, either. I would not presume to tell anybody when he should retire but if O'Neal does decide to keep playing it would be nice if he did not act like he is some kind of military hero for doing so.
posted by David Friedman @ 1:10 AM