Shaq's Six Degrees Of Seperation
Shaquille O'Neal has loaded up his Shaq-Mobile and headed to the mistake by the lake, Cleveland, Ohio. Before LeBron the Cavaliers just like the Celtics prior to the new big three was not a destination of choice. Both cities were considered NBA outposts and were routinely dismissed by free agents.
But I digress this after all this is about the big Shaq-huna, a man whose travels has seen him partner with arguably the top three players in the NBA. He brought Kobe three rings, and until this past season Kobe had never won without him.
Kobe was soon tired of being second fiddle and gave the Laker brass an ultimatum, get rid of Shaq or he walks. In spite of Kobe's greatness the Lakers refuse to be held hostage to his petulant demands. The Lakers did do the wise thing in spite of Kobe's demands and traded Shaq only because of his age and contract demands.
Shaq ended up with the next closest thing to Kobe, Dwayne Wade, a Chicago native whose stock rose when he took the Miami Heat to the second round of the 2004 playoffs without any significant help. In 2006 Wade got his championship and for the first time Shaq was not named MVP of the Finals.
When David Stern went to present the MVP trophy to Wade, Shaq ingratiated himself into the ceremony. For a brief moment a look of annoyance flashed across Wade's face. The next year with Wade injured, Shaq mailed in the season and forced a trade to Phoenix. Since Shaq left Miami, his relationship with Wade just like Kobe has cooled down.
The Phoenix move quickly backfired and destroyed Phoenix's chemistry. They were unceremoniously dismissed in the first round of the 2007 playoffs and did not even make the playoffs this year.
A big fall for a man with a giant size ego, his once carefully orchestrated moves had not resulted in a championship.
The only difference between his move to Phoenix from Miami is that I haven't heard Shaq publicly say a disparaging word about Wade.
They say the third time is a charm and O'Neal wants to cement his name in the annals of NBA history as the greatest big man ever by winning his fifth ring with LeBron.
Can Shaq and LeBron co-exist and bring a championship to Cleveland in 2010?
There are marked differences between Shaq's move to Cleveland and his other Championship cohorts. Kobe and Wade weren't necessarily household names when he joined them. Shaq was the bigger than life mentality that took the spotlight either with his quick barbs or by his mere physical presence.
Now Shaq is matched up with a figure that by himself is as iconic a personality as Shaq, sans the rings. LeBron James is known for his monstrous forays through the paint and for his rim rattling dunks. His game is predicated on spacing so he could kick the ball out to his shooters.
Getting Shaq is a knee jerk reaction to what the Magic did to the Cavalier big men. The logic here is that Shaq will demand double teams and make it easier for Delonte West and Mo Williams to shoot the three.
Cleveland will have a starting line up of Lebron, Shaq, Williams, Delonte West and possibly Verajao if he re-ups. After Williams and West who both need help to get their shots off, the Cavs still do not have a bench. Also the premise here as I stated before is that Shaq will command a double team.
Memo to the Cavs: Kendrick Perkins can play Shaq without much significant help, Dwight Howard can play Shaq somewhat without help too. If those are the two teams that Cleveland is trying to overtake then this move does not make sense for a team with championship hopes.
Everywhere Shaq has been, where he has actually won, the other star has been left with acrimony and resentment against Shaq.
The media has said that LeBron will stroke Shaq's ego. Dwayne Wade did that and look what Shaq did. Did LeBron talk to Wade, or Kobe? He probably did, but with the full effects of his teams collapse still on his mind King James is willing to play with the devil to get his ring. Besides Shaq has only one year left on his contract.
Cavalier management is trying desperately to placate James instead of following what the Lakers did and build a team that can stand on its own even if Kobe retires.
James may still bolt after this season, because besides James they do not have any viable assets. The mentality here is that if it doesn't work out then they could trade Shaq by the deadline. Once again a desperate team will take a chance on O'Neal, and this move already reeks of desperation.
LeBron is a fitness buff, and clearly Shaq is not. They are both motivated by a driving force to be the best and win championships. For now this may be enough but the real test will be if Shaq makes it past the trade deadline in Cleveland.
Shaq has now spread his massive arms over Kobe, Wade and now LeBron. Like a djinn, he will clap his hands and say "Shaq-zamm" rub his super sized cranium and may bring that championship magic to LeBron and his Cavaliers.
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