Boston Celtics

Boston Celtics Adding Shaq Will Pay Huge Dividends

BOSTON - MAY 13:  Shaquille O'Neal #33 of the Cleveland Cavaliers waits to shoot a free throw in the fourth quarter against the Boston Celtics during Game Six of the Eastern Conference Semifinals of the 2010 NBA playoffs at TD Garden on May 13, 2010 in Boston, Massachusetts. The Celtics defeated the Cavaliers 94-85.  NOTE TO USER: User Expressly Acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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David WeissCorrespondent IIIAugust 22, 2010

Let's skip the lead-in, cinderella-painting introduction of Shaq at this point in his career because, frankly, it has gotten older than he is.

That's what happens when you have played for more teams than Andy Dick in the last four years.

I'm not even going to extol Shaq for having seemingly pocketed his ego in order to contribute for the good of his respective team the past two seasons, because his baggage has increasingly caught up with his larger than life personality, and his presence on the court isn't impressive enough anymore to encourage people to focus on the latter.

In fact, the murmurs of discussion that have led to Kobe's exoneration and Shaq's incrimination as the actual bad apple that broke the Lakers back is gradually becoming commonplace.

But for the Celtics, Shaq's addition will only be a positive.

In the most simple sense, Shaq's mere presence alone is enough to duplicate Kendrick Perkin's contribution to the team. He will intimidate penetrators, grab an occasional rebound, and he will basically be a wall as a pick-and-roll blocker for the shifty backcourt of Rajon Rondo and Ray Allen.

Looking a bit deeper, Shaq should theoretically be more plugged into the Celtics system than any team he has been on in the recent past because the nucleus of Allen, Garnett, and Pierce are all players in the same hemisphere of his generation, which will keep him from feeling like a fossil.

In addition, the Celtics are about as well-oiled a machine as any team in the league with every one having an established and clearly understood role. Literally, Doc Rivers will say:

"Shaq, your job is to just stay in the paint, be the natural intimidator you are, go the extra mile to grab rebounds when we are playing a team with a talented big man who one of our power forwards will guard, set strong picks on the pick-and-rolls, and look open for easy toss-ups to slam or lay home by our perimeter guys. Okay? Good, now don't talk to me til June."

One last area that Shaq will contribute to, and from, is playing with a polar opposite personality like Kevin Garnett, the Celtics unofficial mood reverberating leader, by lightening things up when need be, and vice versa by getting serious.

Shaq's legacy in the NBA has already been cemented. His induction to the hall of fame is all but an after-thought. But as Shaq's lone superstar-like contribution of being a lovable and positive role model for teammates and fan alike takes a hit, his latest stop may be the band aid that stops the bleeding.

In no uncertain terms, next season is going to be Shaq's final hurrah.

The aftertaste he leaves in the NBA will be remembered just as soon as the Celtics season ends.

Fortunately, for both, this is a marriage that may end up being the perfect end to an already impressive, albeit outdated story.

And in respect to both, I'm sure either wouldn't want to have it any other way.

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