'The Big AARP': Shaq calls it quits

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'The Big AARP': Shaq calls it quits

By Jimmy Toscano
CSNNE.com

Forget the old nicknames. Shaquille O'Neal is now "The Big AARP".

Announcing his retirement today at his home in Florida, Shaq touched upon his time in the league from Orlando to Boston and all points in-between.

With his family in attendance, including his mother and father, Shaq thanked everyone from GMs to ball boys while remaining true to his comical self along the way.

Speaking of GMs, Shaq opened his press conference by taking a fake phone call from someone offering him a chance to apply for the Knicks GM job. That was just the beginning of the jokes.

He made sure to let everyone know that by no means will he remain out of the spotlight, saying, "I do plan on entertaining you for the next 19 years, whether it's TNT, ESPN, CNN . . . whoever wants to hire me. My office opens Monday."

If that's the case, the offer will surely come flying in. Shaq has proven to be not only one of the greatest NBA players of all time, but one of the most media savvy types too.

He points to his parents for turning him into the player and person that he is today, and said that their advice to "be a leader, not a follower" really stuck with him. He hopes his six children look up to him the way he looked up to his parents.

Asked about whether or not he thought about returning to the Celtics next season, Shaq admitted that he knew he couldn't play, and didn't want to put the city of Boston through that again.

He specifically thanked Phil Jackson and Doc Rivers for being influential to his career, and pointed to Rivers' "team-first" mentality on a team with so many stars.

Of course Shaq couldn't leave without a little Dwight Howard talk, admitting that Howard was the last dominant center in the league and that, "If he doesn't win three or four championships, I'll be disappointed."

Former Celtics teammates praise Garnett's passion and intensity

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Former Celtics teammates praise Garnett's passion and intensity

WALTHAM, Mass. – Like so many players who have spent part of their NBA journey having Kevin Garnett barking in their ear words of encouragement or just telling them to get the hell out his (bleepin’) way, you can count Avery Bradley among those who will miss the man affectionately known as ‘Big Ticket.’

Garnett recently announced his retirement after 21 NBA seasons, leaving behind a legacy that includes an NBA title won with the Boston Celtics in 2008.

Among the current Celtics, Bradley is the only current member of the team who played with Garnett in Boston.

When Bradley got the news about Garnett’s retirement, he said he sat down and wrote Garnett a letter.

“To let him know how much I appreciate him, how special he is to me,” said Bradley who added that his relationship with Garnett was impactful both on and off the court. “Kevin’s just an amazing person.”

Leon Powe, a member of the Celtics’ championship team in 2008 with Garnett, echoed similar praise about his former teammate.

“As a teammate, as a player, KG meant the world to me,” Powe told CSNNE.com. “Intensity … he brought everything you would want to the game, to the practice field, he was just non-stop energy.”

And when you saw it time after time after time with him, pretty soon it became contagious.

“The intensity just motivated every guy on the team, including me,” Powe said. “It made you want to go out and lay it out on the line for him and the team. You see how passionate he is. You see he’s one of the greats. And when you see one of the greats of the NBA going hard like that all the time, you’re like ‘Man, why can’t I do that? It trickled down to me and every young guy on the team.

Powe added, “He brought that every single day, night, morning, it didn’t matter. He brought that intensity. That’s all you could ask for.”

And Garnett’s impact was about more than changing a franchise’s fortunes in terms of wins and losses.

He also proved to be instrumental in helping re-shape the culture into one in which success was once again defined by winning at the highest levels.

“KG has had as big an impact as anybody I’ve been around in an organization,” said Danny Ainge, Boston’s president of basketball operations. “The thing that stands out the most to me about KG is his team-first mentality. He never wanted it to be about KG, individual success to trump team success. He lived that in his day-to-day practice. That’s something I’ll remember about him.”