The news that Shaquille O’Neal has signed with the Boston Celtics has some Laker fans frothing at the mouth. But , really, should we have expected anything different ? After all, Shaq has always been about money. Way back when he was the highest paid player on the Lakers he was always pushing Laker management to re-negotiate his contract. And after that, he has always been chasing the dollars whether it be in Miami, Phoenix or Cleveland. This is merely a last gasp effort for one more payday and to convince himself that he is still relevant.
I had to laugh though when I read Shaq’s statement during an Orlando interview in which he said “I came into the league very graciously and want to go out very graciously.” Gimme a break ! Either Shaq doen’t know the meaning of the word ” gracious” or he is delusional. Shaq has never been gracious . Early in his career, after Hakeem Olajuwon took him to school during the 1995 NBA finals, he challenged Hakeem to a one-on-one match . (LOL) .Every place he has gone he has trashed management and put down former teammates. Post L.A, he insulted Dr. Buss and got into a spat with Kobe Bryant. After leaving Miami he criticised the Miami medical staff and belittled D. Wade. In Phoenix , he allegedly filched Steve Nash’s idea for a TV series.It’s true he hasn’t said anything about Cleveland ,yet , but time will tell. It will be interesting to see how he fares in Boston.
I have to give credit to Celtic GM Danny Ainge for the latest in a series of shrewd moves. Miami, Chicago and L.A have gotten most of the ink for their off season moves but Ainge has kept pace with his acquisitions.First he drafted Avery Bradley and Luke Harangody , the latter of the two an absolute steal in the second round.He then re-signed the pesky Nate Robinson, got Jermaine O’Neal with the mid-level exemption, and then filled the roster with Von Wafer and Shaq at bargain basement prices. Since all the Celtics lost are Tony Allen , Eddie House and the retiring Rasheed Wallace, this edition of the Celtics looks vastly improved from last year’s team which took the Lakers to a seventh game in the 2010 finals.
To get back to Shaq: With Kendrick Perkins sidelined until January, 2011 at the earliest, the two O’Neals provide a credible low post presence espescially on defense. Shaq is nowhere near the player he used to be but if he is even close to what he was last year with the Cavaliers he is an important pickup. For 15 to 20 minutes a night , he can play some defense , clog the middle and wear down opposing centers just by leaning on them. The only question marks about him are his conditioning and attitude. Notorious for not keeping in shape or working out , there is a very real chance that he will not be able to remain injury free the entire season. The regular season does not matter that much , particularly after Kendrick Perkins comes back , but will he be fit for the playoffs ? His attitude may not be that much of a question mark this year since the Celtics have a bunch of strong locker room leaders who will keep in his place and Doc Rivers is a no-nonsense coach who will get the maximum out of him , unlike Mike Brown in Cleveland.All in all , Shaq’s acquisition appears to be an excellent move by the Celtics . If he doesn’t work out all they’ve lost is cash , and not a lot of that. They ‘ve only signed him for two years and didn’t have to give up anything to get him.
Will Shaq be last piece of the puzzle ? Will he be the difference maker in the Celtics hoisting their 18th Championship banner ? God , that would be painful for this long time Laker fan to watch. Definitely, Shaq is going to create headaches for Miami and Orlando , particularly the former who don’t have a big center. My gut feeling is that the Celtics may not be able to get past both of them and that the Lakers , with a healthy Andrew Bynum, will have just enough to get one more banner. It may be the last for a while.