Shaquille O'Neal. Photo by AP.
The Big Fella will have no Big Exodus.
Shaquille O'Neal believes he will be back.
The four-time NBA champion said Tuesday he will be in the
league next season and would rather retire than play
internationally. Although if the time has come to hang up
those size 23 shoes for good, O'Neal said he will do so "very
graciously" and "have a big party."
"I know I will play in the NBA next season," O'Neal said.
"International? No. The good thing about me and my career is
I came in, did it my way, did more than expected. For every
athlete or every great person, there's a time when it has to
end. When and if it ever ends it will be very graciously.
"We're going to have a big party. We're going to have a
ceremony and the next thing I'll be waiting for is the
entrance into the place where your name will never be
The 38-year-old O'Neal spent last season with the Cleveland
Cavaliers. He won three NBA titles with the Los Angeles
Lakers and another with the Miami Heat.
But he has struggled to find a contract from a team that can
guarantee him playing time, enough money and a chance for one
more championship to add to his legacy.
He all but ruled out joining LeBron James in Miami or a
return to Orlando, where he began his career in 1992, with
both teams not showing much interest. He also admitted this
offseason has been particularly difficult floating around in
"For me, it's been a real thinking process," O'Neal said. "I
came into the league very graciously and want to go out very
graciously. My main thought was I would like to play for a
winning franchise, somebody that's used to winning, somebody
that keeps winning. Hopefully, I'll make my decision here in
the next one or two days."
O'Neal won't be bored whenever he retires.
He was in Orlando with teen pop star Justin Bieber to promote
the basketball giant's television show, "Shaq Vs." The second
season of the reality competition was set to begin airing
Tuesday night on ABC.
O'Neal is also working on his doctoral degree, has long shown
interests in law enforcement, starred in movies and
television shows and even produced a rap music album.
"I have a lot to fall back on," O'Neal said. "For me to be
done and have done it my way, it will actually be a happy
time for me because I know I have about 80 years left to
live. So I'll be excited about that. But I know I will play
in the league this year. If not, we'll just have a big party
and I'll shut it down.
"Worst comes to worst, I'll be a doctor and do speaking
engagements and talk to children and run for sheriff in this
town or the next town over," O'Neal added. "I have many, many