I wish Shaq had finished his career in Miami. Not only would it seem far more "right" for a player of Shaq's caliber to play for only 3 teams as opposed to 6, but I'm sure he'd end up with his jersey retired for 2 teams as opposed to 1, and every team he would have played with would have been one he had a significant impact. He played well in Phoenix, but he just wasn't a natural fit there, and he wasn't much of a difference maker either way in Cleveland, except when facing a big man like Dwight. I did think he was a good fit in Boston, but his body broke down. However, Miami was a team he should have played out his contract with and retired in 2010. He fit well with a slower team like that and was a proven fit with Wade. They could have still made some noise in the East and would have been a tough out. Shaq in '09 form playing with '09 Wade would have been cool.
But I think he also should have tried staying at 325-330 which he was his last year in Miami. He didn't need to be that light in the past, he had played at 340 when he toyed with the league in 2000, but it was the right way to extend his career, imo. Shaq lost a step around that time, and the loss of mobility showed, both defensively, and even offensively where he started picking up more offensive fouls. He wasn't going to be as mobile as prime Shaq in his mid 30's, but he may have been less foul prone and more effective defensively. Duncan's weight loss has probably fueled much of his resurgence.
With that being said, it's not so simple. That first year in Miami was the only time in his career except for the Boston year when he missed playoff games, so he was still banged up at the lighter weight, and at the worst time.
Some of these comments are absolutely laughable, though. Shaq putting up 15/10 now? He'd be 41 this season and in his 21st season. Anyone putting up 15/10 at that age is unreasonable, much less a guy like Shaq who was already over 300 pounds when he was drafted at 20 years old. That's what makes the comparison to Duncan and Garnett laughable, as well as the fact that the 4 year difference is very significant at this point. I doubt KG and Duncan will be playing, or playing at a high level in 4 years.
The decline can come very quickly at that age in such a young man's game. Even Kareem fell off rapidly once he hit 40, and he had been one of the best players in the league, a first option on a championship team and Finals MVP at 38. The following year, he was still in that role on a 62 win contending team, but 2 years later in '88, he's now a 4th option averaging 15/6, 53%, which is solid, but far from where he had been just 2 years earlier, and a playoff run of 14 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 46%, with the decline being more obvious on the defensive end. Which is also what happened to Shaq in his mid/late 30's.
The point is, even Kareem couldn't put up 15/10 at 40/41 in his 19th season, what makes you think Shaq could do it in his 21st season? Kareem is the standard for longevity along with Karl Malone, so to expect Shaq's longevity to rival the greatest ever is a bad joke. At Shaq's size, he was lucky to even have a prime, just ask Oden, Yao, and it's looking likely that Bynum will join that list. Not to mention guys like Walton, Sampson, Bowie and Daugherty.
As far as Shaq's longevity being overrated? Huh? Most don't talk about Shaq's longevity, and when they do, it's usually negatively. His longevity is underrated actually, and compares to the vast majority of NBA players we've seen. He was an elite player through his 13th season, and pretty much one from the start when he averaged 23/14, 3.5 bpg, 56% as a rookie. Certainly a top 5 player 12 consecutive seasons from '94-'05, and a 20/9/2/2, 60% guy on a championship team in his 14th year. Not to mention an all-star averaging 18/8 on 61% as a 37 year old in his 17th year still capable of huge games like his 45 point game that year. That stacks up well against Hakeem, Ewing and Robinson.
As for the comment about what Duncan and KG would do with Shaq's Phoenix teammates? Yeah, neither of them have good teammates.
The Spurs have only been arguably the deepest team for the past 3 years or so, and Garnett has been playing with multiple all-stars including 2011 when he was one of 4 all-stars. These teams are actually built a lot better than the 2009 Suns, and unlike that team didn't have a guy like Amare done for the season, and great coaching. Anyone want to compare Terry Porter to Pop or Doc? Didn't think so.
Not to take anything away from these guys, I'm thrilled to have both playing at a high level, particularly Duncan who has been essential to the Spurs 18-4 record. And it is clear both have a better attitude than Shaq did, and made smart choices by sticking with teams they're a key part of.