Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Shaq's Hangin Em Up

So of course the big news of the day is Shaq announcing his retirement after 19 years in the league. After an injury plagued season in Boston, Shaq is calling it a day after a remarkable NBA career. Shaq is one of the most unique NBA Superstars to ever play the game, and also one of the most dominant. The stats speak for themselves and I'm not going to delve into those as everyone basically knows Shaq is arguably a top 10 NBA player of all-time. I'm going to focus on what Shaq meant to me personally. Shaquille O'Neal definitely helped jumpstart my collection and help get me excited about card collecting. I've mentioned several times on how Shaq basically started just as I was getting into the hobby. On my countdown 4 cards of Shaq from the 92-93 season are in the top 100. When you're a little kid, (I was 7 when Shaq entered the league) you stand in awe of larger than life personalities, and that's exactly what Shaq was to me. This superhuman powerhouse of a basketball player. The guy could literally tear rims down by sheer force of his rim rattling dunks! He took the hero torch from MJ and was THE guy for me. I wanted Shaq everything so bad, I had the shoes, basketballs, even cassette tapes (Shaq Diesel representin!), and most of all I wanted the cards. My budget was understandably limited, so I couldn't just go out there and spend the "big bucks" on his rookies, I had to try the old fashioned way...pack ripping. So I ripped pack after pack hoping to pull the big guy, and though I only pulled his Fleer and Topps rookies, they felt like the biggest pulls of my life at the time. Even base cards of Shaq felt special to me. There was no one like him, and even though I was bitter when he left Orlando for LA (that truly ripped my heart out, I thought that Penny/Shaq would be a modern day Magic/Kareem) I would eventually get over it and realize and appreciate that I was watching one of the last dominant true centers in the league play the game and I wasn't going to take it for granted. When guys like MJ, Malone, and Barkley retired, I didn't watch their entire careers so it doesn't hit me as hard as it does Shaq, since I kinda grew up with him. Thanks for the memories Shaq, and who knows, without you, I may have never fully embraced and loved this hobby as much as I do today...that to me is an impact. Next week, I'll be commemorating Shaq's retirement with Shaq related card postings all week.

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