What if I told you that an NBA championship contending team signed the 5th most productive center in the league…. for only 1.5 million per year? Well, consider yourself told. The Boston Celtics (the NBA Championship contending team) just signed Shaquille O’Neal (the fifth most productive center in the NBA) to a 2 year, $3 million contract.
(Pause for cries of disbelief and blasphemy, insults upon my intelligence, and questions regarding my sanity. Even the Big Fella himself appears amused by my statement (see pic))
Judging by what I just heard, or would have heard had I been anywhere in the vicinity of those reading this article, most of you think that Shaq is at best a beat up, old, out of shape has-been who couldn’t put up more than 20 descent minutes in a game if his life depended on it. I agree.
Well now that I have thoroughly confused me let me explain apparently conflicting statements.
1) Shaquille O’Neal is the 5th most productive center in the NBA:
I looked at all of the starting centers and calculated how many points they averaged in a 48 minute period. Here are the top 5:
1) Tim Duncan 27.45 pts
2) David Lee 25.99 pts
3) Chris Kaman 25.89 pts
4) Dwight Howard 25.31 pts
5) Shaquille O’Neal 24.62 pts
2) Shaq is a beat up, old, out of shape has-been who couldn’t put up more than 20 descent minutes in a game if his life depended on it:
At 38, Shaquille O’Neal is the oldest player in the NBA. At 325 lbs Shaquille O’Neal is the heaviest player in the NBA. Yao Ming is the only one 45 lbs of him and that’s because he’s 7’6”. Playing 18 years in the NBA while weighing over 300lbs and playing the style of play that Shaq does has worn him down and turned him into what he is now. A slow, out of shape big man who can’t contribute more than 20-25 minutes without passing out or breaking/tearing/spraining something.
Put those 2 together and what do you get? A guy who can score with the best of them… as long as he doesn’t have to play for more than 20 minutes per game. Just what the Celtics were looking for.
Miscellaneous other thoughts on the signing:
I heard a sports radio talk show host refer to Shaq as “The Big Publicity Stunt.” Shaq has been a big time star, and in the past has demanded to be treated like one both in $ and with regards to his role on the team. Many sports journalists and fans have stated their beliefs that the Celtics signing of Shaq is a bonehead move in large part of the reasons I just stated. They think that his ego will ruin team chemistry and disrupt the locker loom. I don’t think that will happen. Danny Ainge and the Celtics front office made it clear to Shaq what his role would be before he signed. He, at least at the time, was willing to accept a role coming of the bench. On top of that, he took a huge pay cut. His salary last year was $21,000,000. This year, he will be playing for the NBA veteran minimum wage, about $1.5 million. I may be wrong, but his accepting an of the bench role and a 93% pay cut seems to say that he’s going to put aside his ego (at least for a little while) in order to help his new team win a championship.