Thursday, June 02, 2011

A Media Salute to the "Big Aristotle"

The NBA is going to miss Shaquille O'Neal, who announced his retirement yesterday after 19 seasons and four NBA titles. In an age of surly, often threatening professional athletes, Shaq was pure fun--from his dozens of different nicknames to his off-court antics. In many ways, he was the world's biggest (7'1", 325 lbs.) kid.

Shaq also had a unique understanding of how to use the social media. He dwarfs (in more ways than one) other athletes with more than three million Twitter followers, and announced his retirement yesterday on the new social media site Tout. "I am the emperor of the social media network," he noted, and it's hard to disagree. Shaq's willingness to interact with fans and his pioneering use of the social media built up a storehouse of good will that long outlive Kazaam.

Shaq will hold an official retirement press conference on Friday, but he's already made his point: knowing how to use the social media is essential for athletes in today's sports environment. Others could take a lesson from the "Big Aristotle," who is now well positioned for any number of lucrative options in his post-NBA life.


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