Shaquille O'Neal: The Big Mistake

Dave MetrickSenior Writer IFebruary 6, 2008

At some point on Wednesday afternoon, Phoenix Suns fans heard the news. 

It must've spread through the Valley of the Sun like a rampant STD: Shawn Marion and Marcus Banks were being sent to the Miami Heat for Shaquille O’Neal. And I’m sure when the Suns faithful heard about the Daddy’s imminent arrival, they all threw up in their mouths a little bit.

You know, just enough to feel their esophagi burn.

Steve Kerr held a press conference, said some things, and explained the move... 

But I didn’t hear anything that convinced me that this was a good idea for a team that aspires to play in the NBA Finals. If I learn later that some crazed fan had a room full of hostages and demanded the Suns pull the trigger on this deal; then all is forgiven. 

But short of that, anyone who occupies a desk in the Suns’ front office should be run out of town for being a part of something so blatantly absurd.

The Phoenix Suns did not get better on Wednesday afternoon. They did not improve the chances of making the finals. They didn’t even get the better end of the players’ contracts. 

What they did was admit to everyone that despite their place at the top of the Western Conference, they didn’t believe in the team they had, the offense they were running, or their chances at post-season greatness. 

So they got older. And heavier. And slower. 

They acquired an over-the-hill center with a bad hip. No word yet on whether or not Grandpa Shaq is going to need to get that thing replaced in the off-season. But if he does, I hear titanium is the way to go.   

The Big Hip is not going to fit into the Suns run-and-gun style of play. And he’s not going to get up and down the floor. He couldn’t if he wanted to. 

What he can do it clog the lane and make it much more difficult for two-time MVP Steve Nash to drive and dish and run the offense that the rest of the team was built around. And what's he going to do when he doesn't get enough touches to satisfy his Shaq-sized ego?   

The Big Immobile is not going to provide a defensive presence and he’s not going to rebound. Not as well as they need him to anyway. How can he? He’s immobile. 

Oh, don’t get me wrong, he’ll get in people’s way.  But those people are athletic enough to go around him.  And come playoff time, will Shaq significantly slow down Yao Ming, Tim Duncan, or even Andrew Bynum? It’s highly unlikely.  

The Big Doormat is not going to be the cagey, old veteran who leads the Suns. Shaq only leads when his leadership is unquestioned and his authority absolute. He needs it to be “his” team. Just ask Penny and Kobe.

And this isn’t his team. It’s clearly Nash’s team and that’s the way it’s going to stay. 

Without question, O’Neal’s a shoo-in, first-ballot Hall-of-Famer and one of the greatest centers to ever play the game. But his days are numbered. Superman can no longer leap tall centers in a single bound. Time is his kryptonite and it’s already devastated this superhero.  

Over the years, Shaquille O’Neal has given himself hundreds of nicknames that start with the word “big.” But unfortunately, when it’s all said and done, the fans in Phoenix may grant him one more:

The Big Mistake.