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With Shaq gone, let the great debate begin

Posted by Ed Giuliotti  June 1, 2011 06:07 PM

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Couldn't help but note that, as always, plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose.

In other words, nothing ever changes. Every 42 years or so, an all-time center retires from the Celtics without the team being the first to know.

So before any old-timers get on Shaquille O'Neal for announcing his NBA retirement via Tout, the latest and greatest form of social media, a form of communication at which Shaq has proclaimed himself the "Emperor," I must remind folks that 42 years ago the Celtics found out that Bill Russell was hanging 'em up was via an article in Sports Illustrated. It's the same idea, just a different form of information delivery.

Unlike No. 6, at least Shaq let the team know his intentions before the draft.

Shaq might be right about his role in social media. I must admit: the first time I ever heard of the phenomenon known as Twitter was in association with Shaq, so maybe he isn't far off.

It was a nice idea, having Shaq around. The team was 21-4 in games where Shaq played 20 minutes or more, and they did win 14 straight with him at center. But it was a rather risky gamble that he would be available for the playoffs, and it was a gamble Danny Ainge lost.

Now we can officially start debating Shaq's place in NBA history. My initial thought is that he vies with Moses Malone for fourth place on the all-time list of centers. Only young'uns with no true historical perspective would consider placing him above Russell, Wilt Chamberlain, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

That ought to get the conversational ball rolling.

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About bob ryan's blog Opinions, observations and anecdotes from Boston Globe columnist Bob Ryan.
Bob is an award-winning columnist for the Globe and the host of "Globe 10.0" on Boston.com.

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