Posted on: February 12, 2010 5:39 pm
Edited on: February 12, 2010 6:04 pm
DALLAS -- If Shaquille O'Neal had directed his latest tirade at someone else, we would've had a good old fashioned sniping contest Friday at All-Star media day. Dwight Howard wasn't having it.
Howard took the high road, in more ways than one. Not only did he refuse to return jabs at O'Neal -- who once again took verbal swipes at his heir apparent Thursday night in Cleveland -- but Howard took it a step farther.
He did something that nobody has been able to do on the court for 17 years. He made Shaq look small.
"I would never take a shot at anybody," Howard said. "It doesn't matter if you're trying to motivate them or anything. Shaq has been in the league for a long time. He has a very lengthy resume. I just started. I'm only 24 years old and I have a long way to go. The only thing I would want from Shaq -- or any of the older guys who’ve been in my position -- is to help me grow as a player and as a person. That’s what my job would be as I get older. It’s to help the new guys who come in grow into better players and not try to bring them down or talk about them in a bad light. I would want to be that person that younger guys could look up to and ask for advice on how to carry themselves on and off the court."
If Shaq doesn't feel like a big enough doofus for trotting out his tired "Superman impostor" routine on Howard, there's more.
"I just wouldn't expect somebody to do that," Howard said. "There’s nothing I can do about it. He said what he had to say, it didn't sit too well with me personally. I felt like Shaq being who he is and what he’s done for the NBA ... I thought it would be better for him to try to help me through things instead of trying to put me down -- especially in front of you guys. That part kind of stuck with me., I would never talk bad or say anything to put him down."
Posted on: December 30, 2009 11:16 pm
Edited on: December 31, 2009 12:20 am
The Atlanta Hawks plan to file a game protest after the shot clock failed to reset in the final two minutes of their 106-101 loss in Cleveland on Wednesday night.
Posted on: June 25, 2009 11:55 am
Yes, LeBron James was consulted about the Cavs' decision to go for broke and acquire Shaquille O'Neal. Yes, LeBron was all for it.
No, the blockbuster acquisition has no bearing on LeBron's decision on whether to sign an extension with Cleveland this summer, according to a person with knowledge of the situation.
With two years left on the extension he signed in 2007 -- the last year, of course, with a player option -- James is eligible to sign as much as a four-year extension with Cleveland when the free-agent signing period begins next month. By doing so, he'd be forfeiting his right to decline the player option for the 2010-11 season. It's a tricky predicament. If league revenues decline by 5 percent next season -- half of commissioner David Stern's doomsday scenario of a 10 percent decline -- the salary cap for 2010-11 could go as low as $51 million, according to one team's internal projections. (The cap for this past season was $58.7 million.) With seven years of service in 2010, LeBron could max out at 30 percent of the cap as an unrestricted free agent. But 30 percent of the reduced cap is less than James' scheduled $17.1 million salary in 2010-11 (if he exercised the player option.) It's not supposed to work that way, but it's part of the new reality for everyone -- not just the NBA.
Without getting too complicated, the falling cap means that James would wind up with about $3.5 million more over the next five seasons by signing an extension with Cleveland this summer as opposed to opting out on July 1, 2010 and signing a new contract as an unrestricted free agent. In the grand scheme of what would be a $100 million-plus contract either way, $3.5 million is not a significant amount of "cheddar," as one team exec put it. But it's certainly worth thinking about, and it would be foolish to ignore the economic environment and its impact on LeBron's decision. At least you know that if LeBron doesn't re-sign this summer, it means he wants to wait and see what direction the Cavs take -- and he wants to do that badly enough to leave money on the table.
The bottom line is this: LeBron isn't making any decisions about his future until he sees how the Cavs perform this season. That means no extension this summer -- Shaq or no Shaq, $3.5 million or no $3.5 million. He could make that money up with one endorsement deal. And he'd rather win a championship than quibble over about 3 percent of his projected earnings.
"His whole thing is based on how they do this year, period," one rival exec said.
Which is another reason why trading for Shaq and going all-in for 2009-10 was a smart move by the Cavs -- for this season and beyond.
Posted on: June 25, 2009 1:00 am
Edited on: June 25, 2009 1:23 am
Shaquille O'Neal is bringing his Shaqness and four championship rings to Cleveland, which hasn't won a pro sports championship in 45 years.
Get the puppet commercials ready.
Posted on: June 24, 2009 10:59 pm
The on-again, off-again trade proposal that would send Shaquille O'Neal to Cleveland to do for LeBron James what he did for Kobe Bryant is ... you guessed it ... on again.
The key components have been discussed since the February trade deadline, and you must know them by heart at this point. The Cavs get Shaq, and the Suns get cap relief (not to mention Shaq relief). The cap relief comes in the form of Ben Wallace's $14 million expiring contract -- which could expire sooner than we think if Big Ben was serious about retiring and taking a buyout -- and Sasha Pavlovic, who has only $1.5 million of his $4.9 million for 2009-10 guaranteed.
If essentially the same package has been discussed on and off for four months, what's the problem? Word is that Danny Ferry wants to fully explore what those expiring contracts will yield and will strike when the time is right and it's clear he's gotten the best offer. The Suns, not willing to give up on regaining a spot among the Western Conference elite, want something more than cap relief. Short of future draft picks from the Cavs, the only way to accomplish that is to recruit a third team.
Posted on: June 14, 2009 3:53 pm
ORLANDO, Fla. -- The Cavaliers are taking an aggressive posture as they head into the draft and free-agent period, so it was only a matter of time before the Shaquille O'Neal talks heated up again.
Several media outlets began reporting Sunday that the Cavs and Suns have reignited talks about sending Shaq to Cleveland to help LeBron James in his quest for a championship. There wasn't much to reignite in the first place; widely hyped discussions involving O'Neal at the trade deadline were never on the verge of producing a deal. An executive familiar with the situation told CBSSports.com Sunday that the situation hasn't evolved much since then, expressing surprise at the flurry of reports.
But when you have two teams desperate to move assets -- Phoenix with Shaq's $20 million expiring contract, and Cleveland with Ben Wallace's $14 million expiring contract and Sasha Pavlovic's partially guaranteed deal -- smoke often gives way to fire. Throw in the fact that the Cavs are coming off a debilitating loss to Orlando in the conference finals and an embarrassing week that featured a false report about coach Mike Brown's future, and you can see why the time may be right to shift to focus to the team's pursuit of O'Neal.
The executive involved in the teams' dealings said he fully expects the O'Neal situation to move to the forefront once the clubs begin fully exploring their options in the draft and free agency, which begins next month. The Suns, coming off a 46-win, non-playoff season, are highly motivated to move O'Neal in a bid to avoid paying luxury tax. Acquiring Wallace and Pavlovic, whose $4.9 million contract is only guaranteed for $1.5 million next season, would save Phoenix as much as $10 million, including luxury tax savings.
The Cavs view Pavlovic's partial guarantee and several players on minimum deals as a built-in trade exception they can use to improve the roster and give LeBron the big man he needs to compete for a championship at the highest level. A person familiar with the Cavs' thinking said the team is open to any and all possibilities and plans to take an aggressive approach in retooling a roster that won a league-best 66 games but failed to reach the NBA Finals.
A wild card in the Shaq talks is Wallace, who stated after the playoff loss to the Magic that he was seriously considering retirement. Cavs management has yet to speak directly with Wallace about his intentions, and as of now the club doesn't expect him to walk away from the $14 million left on his deal. If Wallace reiterated his desire to retire, it would spur buyout talks that would free up cap space immediately. Short of that, Wallace would get no money and the $14 million he is owed would come off the Cavs' books.
The idea of Shaq in Cleveland as a running mate for LeBron would present endless storylines and the delicious possibility of Kobe Bryant -- if he returns to the Lakers -- meeting his former and current nemeses in next year's Finals. The marketing people would have a field day adding a Shaq puppet to the popular Kobe & LeBron commercials. Bryant would be presented with the challenge of pursuing his fifth championship against the player he won with -- and feuded with -- in L.A. and the player who is trying to claim Bryant's title as the best player in the game.
It almost sounds too good to be true, except that it's not. Just give it some time.
Posted on: March 23, 2009 9:28 am
"If he gets 25 and 11," Suns coach Alvin Gentry said when informed of Shaq's plans, "he can do anything he wants."
That's cool, I guess. One halftime post isn't going to hurt anybody. But I'm concerned about the 37 Tweets Shaq posted to between 1:57 a.m. and 2:19 a.m. I'd say that's evidence the Big Shaqtus needs Twitter detox.
Shaq, please, step away from the BlackBerry.
Posted on: March 5, 2009 11:43 am
Shaq isn't going quietly.
Good for him.
Better for us.
You must understand something. I've been doing this sports writing thing for some time now, and rants like this come around once in a lifetime.
This is what we call an all-timer.
I stand in awe of Shaq's eternal gifts. This must be recorded for posterity, which is why I will set it up and give you the full transcript (minus the expletives), courtesy of the Arizona Republic, a fine news organization which also recognized the historic nature of Shaq's performance. This was Paul Bunyan picking up and ax and cutting down every tree in sight. With one mighty swing, Shaq chopped down Stan Van Gundy, his brother Jeff, Dwight Howard, AND Patrick Ewing.
I'm not worthy.
Here we go: After O'Neal fell down in an attempt to draw a charge from Howard Tuesday night, Stan Van Gundy pulled a wrinkled Coaching 101 handbook from his back pocket and said: “I was shocked, seriously, shocked. And very disappointed, because he knows what it’s like. Let's stand up and play like men, and I think our guy did that tonight.”
Nice try, Stan.
Before the Suns played the Heat in Miami Wednesday night -- Shaq's first return since he was traded to the desert 13 months ago -- he was asked if he had any reaction to Van Gundy's comments. Never has a soft ball been tossed so perfectly.
Shaq's response, as reported by Paul Coro of the Republic:
"(Howard) came with the same old, stale Patrick Ewing move, so I tried to stand there and take the charge. The new rules say if you come through, you fall. But as I fell, I realized that it was a flop and it reminded me of Coach Van Gundy’s whole coaching career. The one thing I despise is a frontrunner. First of all, none of his players like him. When it gets tough, he will become the master of panic like he did before and he will quit like he did before. The one thing I despise is frontrunners. Yeah, he’s got a young team playing good, but don’t be a frontrunner. Him and his brother and even the legend on the bench ain’t done what I’ve done in my whole career. So flopping would be the wrong choice of words.
"I just tried to take a charge. The ___ rules say you can’t stand there and get hit. You’ve got to fall. The ____ got the same old stinking move that Patrick Ewing has been doing his whole career. I went down, got up and didn’t complain. I see him and Stan complaining the whole game because they’ve got to. Remember, I’ve done more than him, his brother, and Patrick Ewing.
"Stan Van Gundy reminds me of a broke navigational system. He knows everything about everything but ain’t never been nowhere. Think about that. If I’m right here and I type in the address of where you’re going, I know where it’s at but I’m not going there.
"When a bum says some ___ about it and I respond, you can ___ cancel that because I know how he is in real life. We’ll see when the playoffs start and he ___ panics and quits like he did when he was here (in Miami). And you ___ print it just like that. Do I look soft to you like you can say something and I’m not going to say something?
"Notice they didn’t play me straight up. We’ll see how far they go because I know Stan. I said this a long time ago, but I was actually talking about him: 'When the general panics, the troops will panic.' Like in business, when the head panics and takes out all his stock, what happens?
"All the players hate him. The players don’t even like him. I hate frontrunners. I really do. I don’t like any frontrunners. There’s a pecking order involved. I’ve been there six times.
"I ain’t going to let no bum like him rip me and not say anything back. You can cancel that ___ all the way. Usually, I let ___ go. Not that. Not him. Hell no.
"The rules say when a guy goes through your chest you’ve got to fall to get the call. It was a flop. You’ve watched me play for 17 years. I don’t play like that.
"I’m not going to sit around and let nobodies take a shot at me and he is a nobody to me. And if he thinks he can get in a little press conference and take shots at me like I’m not going to (say) something back, he’s got another thing coming."
Ladies and gentlemen, Shaquille O'Neal. Enjoy him while he's still here.
The Shaq farewell tour has kicked it up a notch. When the Suns visited the Knicks in January, I asked Shaq if Howard was the closest thing he's seen to the Next Shaq. "No," he said ."He's a good player, but everything he's done, I've invented. So I'm not impressed."
Then came the clowning around at All-Star weekend, the pre-game dance ritual, the reflective comments -- Shaq soaking it all in, recognizing this was probably his final All-Star Game.
Since the All-Star break, he's averaging 22.1 points and 8.4 rebounds in a single-handed attempt to raise the Suns from the dead. He might just do it. After Shaq led the Suns to a victory over Kobe Bryant's Lakers on Sunday with 33 points and seven rebounds, he said, "It's what I do. I've been doing this since 1992. If you don't believe it, Google me."
Shaq turns 37 Friday. Happy birthday, big fella. Glad you're still here.