Tag:Shaquille O'Neal
Posted on: February 2, 2011 9:02 pm
Edited on: February 2, 2011 9:08 pm

All-Star Debate: How much does legacy matter?

How much should legacy or prior career achievements factor into a player's All-Star selection? Our NBA crew debates that question. Posted by Ben Golliver.

All-Star reserves will be announced on Thursday, and par for the course, the coaches have some tough decisions. We'll be debating the merits of each choice the coaches will have to make. These debates don't necessarily reflect the actual opinions of the writers. Think of it as opposition research, only if we opposed everyone. Our third debate? How much does a player's legacy influence his potential selection and how much should legacy influence the selections? Should guys get in on past accomplishments or should the coaches reward the younger guns?

Legacy isn't that big of a deal, and that's a good thing

by Royce Young

The All-Star Game rewards players for having fantastic individual seasons. For having excellent statistics and playing terrific basketball. I think players like Tim Duncan and Shaquille O'Neal have indeed earned something over their careers. They've worked their way into immediate Hall of Fame induction and greatest ever discussions. So in a game that awards that sort of excellence, a player's legacy certainly has something to do with it. If nothing else, it's a pretty good trump card to have.

Overall, I don't think either things should matter all that much. If you're good and you're having a great season, you deserve All-Star consideration. If your team stinks and you've got no legacy, it shouldn't matter if you're an All-Star. That distinction should be earned over the first half of the season, not over 15 years prior. 

Legacy matters a lot, but it shouldn't

by Matt Moore

I think it's pretty clear that legacy is the overriding factor in a lot of coach's decisions. This sport revolves around respect for those who have consistently been great, and is tough on accepting those who have not gone out and obtained such success this season. I think when you look back at so many of the decisions being made out of respect for previous accomplishment, Allen Iverson, for example, versus current role, abilities, and performance, that's pretty clear. But is it right?  I tend to think it's a silly waste of a mark of recognition that could go to someone else. It's one thing if it's someone like Tim Duncan, who's team is the best in the league right now, and while his production doesn't mirror that of his past All-Star seasons, he's still a huge focal point and able to put in a great night's work. But someone like Shaq, or Vince Carter in year's past, where his performance really doesn't have that much of an impact on the game? To include those players over someone younger, who's carried his team this season and performed at a star level I think misses a great opportunity to expose the fans to guys they may not have heard of. 

We've got enough opportunities to lavish over historic legacies. But younger, hungrier players are trying to make a name for themselves now, and in ignoring their efforts, you're downplaying what matters most: what's happened on the court. I look at a guy like LaMarcus Aldridge, or even a less obvious pick in Rudy Gay, whose contributions have meant as much to his team as many of the reserves, and I see a wasted opportunity to really shine a light on guys having a phenomenal season. Oddly, the East seems much more ready to simply accept the work done, with guys like Al Horford and Gerald Wallace selected last year. The typical response is "Those guys are All-Stars?" They are, and they should be. It's time we stop treating the game like an annual repetition of a lifetime achievement award. 

Legacy matters a lot, deal with it

by Ben Golliver

Pardon me for always playing the role of the cynic, but we can agree that the NBA All-Star game is a popularity contest. The easiest way to win a popularity contest? Have an established track record of being popular, of course. Name recognition and star power count a lot; That's just life in a league where the super-duper stars that cross over into "household name" status are 10-100 times more well-known than up-and-comers that haven't tasted true national popularity yet, even if they're better players over the first half of the NBA season.

Does it bother me that young guns occasionally get left out of the All-Star game to pay homage to an elder statesman? Sure, it does. But I tend to look at the cream of the crop NBA talent as a giant warehouse, with new models being introduced to an existing inventory and old models eventually becoming obsolete. There's an assembly line process feel of it, and the coaches do a solid job of making sure deserving players get a crack at some national publicity while the truly deserving players come back year after year. 

To boil it down: I'm cool with the current "you have to really, really prove it" system for young guys to make it. Every year, someone (Kevin Durant, etc.) rises to that standard and it makes the accomplishment that much more special. And, every year, we get a final look at some oldie classics (Tim Duncan, perhaps). I just don't see any perennial, big-time losers in the current set-up.

Posted on: January 28, 2011 2:56 pm
Edited on: January 30, 2011 3:20 am

Celtics at Lakers: What it means for Boston

What Sunday's Celtics-Lakers game means for the Boston Celtics in the first rematch since the 2010 Finals. 

Posted by Matt Moore

On Sunday, Boston travels to L.A. for Modern Celtics-Lakers XX.  The 20th time these two have met since the 07-08 season (twice in the regular season for three years, plus 13 playoff games) will still represent what many feel is a clash of the two best teams in basketball currently, as well as the resumption of the oldest and greatest rivalry the sport has ever known. With Los Angeles at 33-13 and the Celtics 35-10, the two look every bit ready to see each other once more in the Finals, even with challengers like San Antonio and Miami in their path. 

This rivalry extends beyond the history and legacies of their franchises, though. There's a genuine dislike between the two teams, even if they share a mutual respect.  The Celtics' brutally tough, bullying defense and marksman like precision clashes organically with the Lakers' smooth ball movement and overpowering height and athleticism run through the Triangle.  Doc Rivers' explosive motivational coaching approach runs in contrast to Phil Jackson's zen-like trust in his players and press-conference tweaking.  And at the end of it, they just don't like one another. 

But as the two meet in the rare regular season game that actually does seem to matter (although afterward the loser will predictably dismiss such claims), what does this matchup actually mean for Boston? 

Just for Kicks

Kevin Garnett has never been one to back down from an opportunity for dramatics. As much as his reputation is for visceral toughness and unbridled intensity, he is also a showman.  While the legitimacy of his stanchion-smashing, cobra-weaving, "Anything is possible" lunacy is up for debate, he does know how to send a message in outright terms. Nothing proves that like the shoes it was announced Garnett would be wearing for the game. Yes, his shoes. Have a look, courtesy of Nice Kicks /Aaron Knows and The Basketball Jones :

On the tongue there? That's the Celtics all time record against the Lakers, 152-120. The shoe is delicately titled "Beat L.A.."  Kevin Garnett had shoes produced for one game.  If that doesn't serve as proof of Garnett's intentions in this game, nothing will. It's just his feet, but in basketball terms, that's as good as wearing a T-shirt that reads "I plan on kicking your face in because that's what my team does to your team."  It's an outright signal of the Celtics' entire attitude, which isn't just "We're going to win" but "We're going to win because we're better than you, our franchise is better than you, and our collective being in every way is superior to yours."

It's why the Celtics don't really respect Orlando, nor do they show real signs of respect for anyone. It's part of their own personal code of conduct. But it's amped to another level with L.A. That will always be part of it as the players seek to carry on the legacy of the game built into the rivalry. But it's even more prevalent because of how things were the last time these two stepped on a court together. 

Revenge and the Art of Maniacal Maintenance

Losing to the Lakers in the Finals was devastating for the Celtics. Losing a championship series is hard for any player, but these are the Celtics, a group of veterans trying to make good on promises to themselves as well as their fans that they would collect multiple rings once among players of their caliber. Beyond that, though, losing to L.A. creates a sense of failure beyond just disappointment. You've let down the players that came before you, the players who managed to beat the Lakers, who protected that legacy (despite the Lakers having won quite a few of their own throughout the years).  It's the darkest of all places, as Garnett told WEEI this fall about his mindset after Game 7: 
“Very dark, to be honest, dark. ‘Just leave me alone, let me be my myself. I don’t want to deal with anything right now. Let me just be in a dark place.’ Just the way I replay the game over and over in my mind, trying to get a resolution to some type of place to where you can settle with it. I never found it, but that’s what it is. I say it’s fuel to the fire. [Expletive? (Bleeped completely out] .“
via Sports Radio Interviews » Blog Archive » Kevin Garnett Goes To A Dark Place In The Off-Season .

Paul Pierce wasn't in a great place afterward either, when WEEI spoke to him about it: 
How long does it take a competitive person like you to get over a seventh-game loss in the NBA (Finals)? A week? A month? Ever?

“I still haven’t gotten over it. It’s tough. Because you envision back, and say, ‘If we could have done this different, that different in the game, it would have been a different outcome.’ So, it’s hard. You think about the what ifs and all of that. I don’t think you ever forget it.”

What’s the process? Do you go in your bedroom for a couple of days and sleep, and then don’t shave for a while, or don’t bathe, and then finally come out of the shell?

“I didn’t talk to people for a long time. I didn’t watch any basketball for a long time. I sort of kind of did go into a shell. I didn’t want to leave the house. I didn’t even want to go out and eat for a while, because you just felt that bad about the loss. But then as I got back into the gym and working out, I just used it for motivation and just sort of loosened up from there.”
via Sports Radio Interviews » Blog Archive » Paul Pierce on Losing Game 7 .

This is just speculation, but I'm betting Glen Davis' reaction was to eat a muffin. Or a boar whole, or something. Regardless, things were pretty rough for the C's after that loss. 

Nothing will really provide the Celtics with a satisfied feeling of revenge short of winning the championship, preferably over the Lakers this spring.  But this game is a chance to send a message.  It's an opportunity to go into the Lakers' house and show them that they are still every bit as tough as they have been, and even tougher with their improved depth. It's a chance to illustrate that they are the ones in control of this rivalry, even after last spring, and that even though this is just a regular season game, they can dominate at will. 

This isn't about just showing L.A. who's boss, it's about testing themselves. Being 35-10 means little to them because they don't care about beating the Nets, or the Bobcats, or even the Magic or Heat.  They want to show they can beat the Lakers.  Everything else is just a means to get there. 

And in part, the Celtics want the opportunity to show that they're right: Kendrick Perkins was the reason they lost. 

Man Down, Ring Down

Losing Kendrick Perkins before Game 7 hurt .  One of the Celtics' biggest advantages against the Lakers as opposed to nearly every team in the league is their ability to counter the Lakers' length with their own interior defense.  Perkins isn't a behemoth like Andrew Bynum, but what he lacks in height he makes up for in toughness, physicality, and savvy.  Losing him meant the Celtics lost just enough of an edge down low.

At the end of the matchup considerations, though, is this: the Celtics were without a starter for Game 7 of the Finals.  That's enough to prompt anyone to keep an excuse at the back of their minds, even if they'll publicly give the other team credit.  Perkins means a lot to this team, and even in limited minutes now that he's back, you can see what he brings the team.  

Sunday is an opportunity to showcase what they look like at full-strength, should they stay healthy till then (which is far from guaranteed, this is the Celtics, after all).  Even with Shaquille O'Neal nursing an injury and Jermaine O'Neal still struggling through his knee problems, this is the Celtics, at their core.  Sunday provides an opportunity to show the difference in the Celtics with and without Perkins. Perkins wasn't even expected to be available for this game, supposedly out another week.

But of course Tuesday he pops up healthy.  That's how this works. Some, like myself, never questioned that Perkins would be back for this game. This game matters to him. You'll have a hard time keeping him out of a game like this, even in the regular season. Because this is like a dress rehearsal.

Trial Run

There's no way to duplicate the intensity of the Finals, but this will be as close as it will get for a while, at least until the Lakers visit Boston in a few weeks.  And it's a chance to test things for future reference. How will Shaquille O'Neal do against Andrew Bynum?  How will Nate Robinson do as backup against Shannon Brown or Steve Blake?  What can a healthy Marquis Daniels do against Ron Artest

These are the questions that will be in Doc Rivers' mind, as they try and get a regular season win, but also try and figure out some things to rely on should these two meet again.  There's no way to block it out, though they may try. "It's just another game" will likely be a refrain at practice and shootaround. Don't be fooled. This is the setup, the first act of the 2011 chapter of Lakers-Celtics.  Let's draw the curtain, and see what happens.

Posted on: January 5, 2011 8:43 pm
Edited on: January 5, 2011 9:09 pm

Bryant: Lakers' problems not as bad as 2002

Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant says this year's struggles aren't as bad as those of the 2002 Lakers. Posted by Ben Golliver. kobe-fisher

It's January, and the Los Angeles Lakers aren't undefeated on the season (they've even dropped a few games they really shouldn't have), so some Lakers fans and critics are freaking out a little bit, predicting apocalypse for the two-time defending NBA champions. 

Even though the Lakers are 24-11, tops in the Pacific Division, a recent up-and-down stretch that included a blowout home loss to the Memphis Grizzlies raised some concerns that the team might not be able to three-peat. 

Leave it to Lakers star Kobe Bryant to act as both history teacher and calming influence. In comments posted on ProBasketballTalk.com, Bryant says this year's struggles -- which include forward Ron Artest getting into it with coach Phil Jackson this week -- are nothing compared to what the last three-peating Lakers, led by Shaquille O'Neal and Bryant, went through.
“We were awful,” Bryant said. “People here forget about that stuff. We were awful and dysfunctional. Here, right now, we’re just awful. It’s much better now than it was. People forget that three-peat that we had to get to, we were [expletive]. We had to go on the road in San Antonio and thank God the Eastern Conference was terrible. We winded up having home court advantage in the Finals but we were awful.”
It's going to be a long haul to achieve a three-peat, it always is, but Bryant makes an excellent point. Going through bad stretches of play is one thing; dealing with bad internal chemistry is another. The Lakers' core is a veteran, tested group that has been there and done that many times, and it's as ego-free on the court as can reasonably be expected from a star-studded group of millionaire basketball players in Tinsel Town. And, other than rehabbing center Andrew Bynum, whose role is still a bit of a question mark as he returns from knee surgery, the important pieces are known quantities that have exhibited success together in the past.

An NBA title is never totally smooth sailing. But bet against the defending champs, talented and playoff-tested, at your own risk. 

For more on the Lakers' struggles so far this season and some possible recipes for turning it around, check out CBSSports.com's Ken Berger breaking it down on video.

Posted on: January 5, 2011 2:30 pm

Video: Shaquille O'Neal appears on Letterman

Posted by Royce Young

I really shouldn't have to spend 150 words trying to convince you to watch this video. It's one of the NBA's funniest people ever appearing on a show with another very funny person. Good things will happen, I promise you.

It'd been 10 years since Shaq appeared on Letterman (so says Shaq) so naturally the first thing Letterman points out is that Shaq is wearing a blazer with a hood on it. I keep telling you, it's a good interview.

Posted on: January 1, 2011 7:44 pm
Edited on: January 1, 2011 7:52 pm

LeBron James says he, Wade won't win NBA MVP

LeBron James says he does not expect that he or Dwyane Wade will win the NBA MVP award this season. Posted by Ben Golliver. heat-stroke

Miami Heat foward LeBron James surely understood that a price would have to be paid for his decision to forsake being a franchise player on a championship contender in Cleveland to become one of 2.5 franchise players on the Miami Heat.

James has already paid a huge public relations toll since "The Decision," but he noted on Saturday that he understands that he compromised his ability to take home hardware as well.

The Sun-Sentinel reports that James acknowledged that both he and teammate Dwyane Wade will not win the NBA MVP award this season. "When we decided to come together, our MVP chances went out the window," James told reporters.

James is the 2-time defending NBA MVP, while Wade has never won the award, although he was named NBA Finals MVP when the Heat won the title in 2006.

ESPN.com adds that James said he believes the MVP award is for individual performance.
"I think they classify it as an individual award. They look at it like the less help you have, the more numbers you have then the better chance for you to win that award."
"I don't know how you classify the MVP thing," James said. "Do you classify it as most valuable to his team, if you take that person off his team how do they play? Or is it how is he playing numbers wise? I don't know."
James is correct: neither he nor Wade will be a finalist for the MVP award this season, and the fact that he understands this and seems to accept it is a refreshingly honest and self-aware turn.

Remembering back a decade, though, the presence of a fellow superstar didn't stop Shaquille O'Neal from winning the 2000 MVP, and it also didn't stop Karl Malone from winning the 1999 MVP, Michael Jordan from winning five MVP awards and Magic Johnson from winning three MVP awards. History has proven that superstar-laden teams can be led by an MVP.

But the nature of "The Decision" and the way it was handled have poisoned James' and Wade's chances, at least in the short term.  Is it impossible to imagine James or Wade winning an MVP two or three years from now, should the Heat win a title or two? Not at all. 
Posted on: December 29, 2010 1:29 pm

Video: Shaq on his $35,000 fine: "WHHHHY?!?"

Posted by Royce Young

Shaquille O'Neal was fined $35,000 for comments after Boston's Christmas Day loss to the Magic. Basically, Shaq said the referees were "control freaks" and called official Bob Delaney out by name. Well, actually by number I guess saying, "I guess they came out to see number 26 today ... He (No. 26) was a great player out there today."

So naturally, I'm sure Shaq could see the fine coming. Which is why we saw the reaction from him when asked about the penalty.

Shaq is always fun and the fact he's willing to always have a good time no matter the situation is what makes him so endearing. He immediately screams "WHYYYY?!?" and runs over to hug Kevin Garnett for support. Garnett struggles a bit so Shaq ends up pulling him down for one of those awkward fall down moments. Then he moves to Paul Pierce who kind of puts out one of those, "OK, you're going on with this for kind of a long time" fake laughs.

Pierce even notes, "I bet he gets fined for this too," which makes Shaq say, "All I said was 'why'." I don't think that's a fineable offense, but then again, who knows.

The best part is how after Shaq carries on with the routine for a solid minute, he comes back and the reporter goes straight into "Now can you talk about Jermaine [O'Neal] coming back?" and Shaq seriously answers it. Quality comedy. It was almost like it was scripted.
Posted on: December 27, 2010 3:05 pm
Edited on: December 27, 2010 6:04 pm

Shaq fined for comments following Christmas loss

Shaq fined for comments following Celtics' Christmas loss. 
Posted by Matt Moore

Following the Celtics' loss to the Magic on Saturday, Shaquille O'Neal decided that it wasn't the inability of Paul Pierce to score in the fourth, nor the collapse of the Celtics' defense, that led to the Magic victory. No, instead he told reporters that it was, naturally, the officials who sealed the deal for the Mickey Mouse Gang. Here's what Shaq said Saturday from our post Sunday:
Needless to say, O'Neal had some choice words for the officiating. "I guess they came out to see number 26 today," O'Neal said.
The only No. 26 on the floor Saturday was official Bob Delaney. "He (No. 26) was a great player out there today," O'Neal said.

O'Neal added, "They (fans) paid all that money to watch No. 26 play. If I was a fan, I would be pissed. You pay all that money for good seats, you have two of the best guys in the (NBA) sitting on the bench, out of the game. That is what happens when you have control freaks out there."
Then here's what the league said via press release Monday:
Shaquille O’Neal of the Boston Celtics has been fined $35,000 for public comments about the officiating, it was announced today by Stu Jackson, NBA Executive Vice President, Basketball Operations.

Which is a pretty strong response to the debate, all things considered. 

Thing is, if you watched that game? Shaq looked slow. And old. Mostly because he's slow. And old. And if you're slow and old facing a team with young, fast players? You're probably going to pick up a fair number of fouls. It's fine for O'Neal to keep running his mouth off about this stuff, he's Shaq, that's who he is. But we should all try and keep a level head and realize that this is mostly about a player being uncomfortable with the fact that his abilities simply aren't where they used to be. He has nights where he's a dominant force inside. And he has days like Saturday, where he's less than that.

Now, O'Neal's comments regarded both he and Dwight Howard, so it's not an outright complaint about unfair calls against the Celtics. But ask yourself if you think the Big Shamrock would have had complaints should the Celtics have won that game? Seems unlikely. 

And now, he's $35,000 lighter in the wallet. Maybe that will quicken him up. 
Posted on: December 26, 2010 3:13 pm
Edited on: August 14, 2011 9:51 pm

Shaq rips ref after Celtics lose to Magic

Shaquille O'Neal criticized the officiating during Christmas Day's game between his Boston Celtics and the Orlando Magic. Posted by Ben Gollivershaq-dwight

Christmas is the NBA's showcase day, but if you ask Boston Celtics center Shaquille O'Neal, all eyes were on the officials instead of the players during the Celtics' 86-78 loss to the Magic in Orlando on Saturday.
O'Neal, who was tasked with defending the league's premier big man, Magic center and MVP candidate Dwight Howard, scored just two points in 13 minutes before fouling out. During his post-game comments, O'Neal pointed the finger at referee Bob Delaney for ruining Christmas for the fans, according to CSNNE.com.
Needless to say, O'Neal had some choice words for the officiating. "I guess they came out to see number 26 today," O'Neal said.
The only No. 26 on the floor Saturday was official Bob Delaney. "He (No. 26) was a great player out there today," O'Neal said. O'Neal added, "They (fans) paid all that money to watch No. 26 play. If I was a fan, I would be pissed. You pay all that money for good seats, you have two of the best guys in the (NBA) sitting on the bench, out of the game. That is what happens when you have control freaks out there."
One suspects that publicly referring to an NBA referee as a "control freak" will lead to a fine from NBA commissioner David Stern.  While Delaney was a headliner of this game because he whistled Howard for violating the league's 10-second limit during a free throw attempt, O'Neal's comments are surely a case of sour grapes, at least in part. The Celtics collapsed in the fourth quarter, losing the quarter 29-15, and O'Neal registered just one rebound, one steal and one block in his time on the court. While he's tried every trick in the book on the court (pulling Howard to the ground during the first half) and off (saying Howard stole his "Superman" moniker in past years), the sun is setting on O'Neal's career, and that's a difficult reality to cope with. That O'Neal still thinks he is in Howard's league and refers to himself as one of "the best guys in the league" is a major post-Christmas bummer. Kendrick Perkins can't get back soon enough.
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