The Big Shamrock?


Shaquille O'Neal

The Big "Shamrock"


This strange NBA offseason keeps getting more surreal, with Shaquille O’Neal joining the Boston Celtics for the veteran’s minimum on a two-year deal.

As a long-time Celtics fan, I’m not sure I had ever really given the idea of Shaq in a Celtics uniform much thought. I just assumed that it would never happen. Of course, if someone had tried to tell me in 2006 that the Boston Celtics 2010-2011 roster would include Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, Jermaine O’Neal, and Shaquille O’Neal, I’d have died from a laughing fit.

Shaq is certainly past his days of being a truly dominant game changer, and yet, I can’t help but feel that he still has something left to bring to the Celtics. Watching the Celtics get beaten up on the boards in Game 7 of the Finals back in June convinced me that without Kendrick Perkins – and possibly even with him – the Celtics simply lacked the size and bulk to deal with a front-line like the Lakers.

Obviously, Shaq isn’t going back to the days of being the focal point of a team, but on the Celtics, he doesn’t have to be. He simply needs to provide some rebounding, points, and lane clogging defense off the bench. He can still do that, and a team could do much worse than having Shaq as an available option to play center for them.

Will Shaq mean that the Celtics win the title next year? Obviously it would be foolish to make that assumption, and there are dangerous teams like Miami, the Lakers, and the Orlando Magic out there to get in the way. I do feel confident in suggesting that had the Celtics had Shaq and Jermaine O’Neal in June, they would likely have claimed the title rather than the Lakers, as a few rebounds would have made all the difference against a Lakers team that couldn’t seem to hit the broadside of a barn for most of game 7.

Should be an interesting season next year, and the Celtics new Big “Shamrock” should only add to that. Win or lose, I’m at least looking forward to the show. Shaq rarely fails to entertain.

Once and Future King?


NBA Star LeBron James

Good to be the "King."


Adrian Wojnarowski’s thought provoking article, State of LeBron: Live at 9, from his ego, illuminates exactly what’s gone wrong in the NBA under the watch of NBA Commissioner David Stern. The celebration of individual greatness has become an ode to the narcissistic young stars who are told how special they are from the moment their talent emerges, and lost in that sea of greed, ego, and excess is a sport that at its best can be an elegant celebration of the collective, a song to the power of the whole rather than the individual.

Credit David Stern for growing the league in the aftermath of the Magic-Bird era, but make no mistake that his calculated efforts to push the admiration of great individual performances has poisoned the NBA. Great as Michael Jordan was, and as much as he saved the league in an hour of need, his legacy has now been twisted into one that tells the young superstars of today it’s okay for them to make it all about themselves.

Cameras follow Chris Bosh around to record his free agency experience and LeBron James has the audacity to schedule an hour-long special on ESPN to announce his decision about where he will continue his basketball career. Perhaps the most amusing twist of all  is that LeBron now looks as though he may sign in Miami to join Dwayne Wade and Bosh so that the three of them might unite for a championship. Apparently it takes more than a self-inflated ego to win the NBA’s ultimate prize.

As a Celtics fan, I watch the circus that surrounds LeBron James and his cohorts, and I contrast it with the simple, quiet manner in which both Paul Pierce and Ray Allen resigned with the Boston Celtics. Maybe Pierce and Allen are over the hill. Maybe the Celtics window is closed. Whatever the truth of the matter, Pierce and Allen can finish their careers with dignity, knowing that their sacrifices for the greater good of the team brought them at least one championship and a chance at another.

Here’s to hoping that maybe one day LeBron James can learn that its not just about it him. Maybe then he can truly be the King that he proclaims to be.