BOSTON - Shaquille O'Neal's tenure with the Boston Celtics was brief, but if we learned anything about him, it's that he likes to do things his way.
While the timing was a little unexpected, it didn't really surprise anyone when O'Neal became the first professional athlete to retire via Twitter on Wednesday afternoon. There was no press release, no tearful goodbye press conference (at least not yet), just a tweet with a link to a brief video that he shot in his home in the Orlando, Fla. area.
Looking into the camera, O'Neal was brief and to the point.
"We did it. Nineteen years, baby. I thank you very much and that's why I'm telling you first: I'm about to retire. Love you. Talk to you soon," O'Neal said.
Just like that, a 19-year career that featured 28,596 points, 13,099 rebounds, 3,026 assists and four NBA championships ended in a less than 140 characters. When you've got 3.8 million Twitter followers, it doesn't take long for news to spread.
O'Neal only appeared in 37 regular season games and two playoff games for the Celtics in the 2010-11 season due to an assortment of injuries. A pesky calf/Achilles injury limited him to just three games after Feb. 1 despite relentless work at rehabbing himself. But when he wasn't sweating it out on the gym trying to get himself back on the court, O'Neal was connecting with his new fan base in Boston and fans all over the world as a digital media pioneer of sorts, who leveraged new media to continue to build upon his already larger-than-life personality.
Whether he was performing random acts of Shaqness like just showing up at Cheers to sing with patrons or posing as a statue in Harvard Square, O'Neal made his presence felt off the court in the Boston community.
What's next for O'Neal is anyone's guess, but as one of the world's most recognizable personalities, he's unlikely to be out of the limelight for long.