Sorry, Los Angeles. Not like this:
About the time this posts, Shaquille O’Neal will be playing his first game for his new squad, the Phoenix Suns….and they’re playing his old squad, the L.A. Lakers. In case you’ve been snoozing, there were some other trades: Jason Kidd to the Mavericks, Pau Gasol to the Lakers and even Spanky’s boy Mike Bibby to the Hawks (Ohhh…that’s soupy…Spanky won’t like it one bit). When i first heard about the Shaq trade, I thought the Suns were crazy (2 reasons: 1. Shaq doesn’t fit their style and 2. Shaq is broke). After some reflection, I’m pretty sure I was wrong on both counts. We’ve known for years that Shaq has made a living out of making sure he doesn’t have to play a full 82 in the regular season. Shaq’s not broke…he’s just been in hibernation again. How do I know? Shaq told us today:
â€œIâ€™m more like a senior adviser so I donâ€™t like to come in here and try to take over,â€ Oâ€™Neal said. â€¦ â€œJust like your basic karate movie where the young guys come to the old guys with beards who have them do weird stuff to get to the other side. Thatâ€™s who I am, the old guy with a long beard.â€
â€œYou like that analogy?â€ he said, obviously pleased with himself. â€œThat was pretty good?â€
Point? It’s on. Shaq only drops quotes when he’s ready to rock, and the Lakers have been running people out of the gym lately. Tonight is a microcosm of the season. Exciting game. Exciting playoffs upcoming. I’m stoked. Besides, these 2 used to be buds:
I had to mention the subplot…ever heard this one before? And as for Shaq not fitting the Suns’ system, I anticipate a “peanut butter and choccolate” moment. This is must-see TV.
You Heard it Here First: The way I see it, the defection of talent to the Western Conference only makes it more likely that the road to the finals in the West becomes a pitfall for one of the (“true”) contenders. Phoenix got sidetracked last year by Bob Horry’s crazy-but-clutch-ass…so did Dallas (as the #1 seed). The Western title has now become it’s own battle royale…and did you ever see Hogan volunteer to fight a match with the Giant after winning a battle royale? We may not see another big upset like last year because upsets in the NBA playoffs are a true rarity (with the 7-game format), but the winners in the West will expend major energy to get there. Meanwhile, the Celtics (and the NBA’s best record) are chillin in the East. Everyone thinks the infusion of talent into the West means a western champion…I’m not so sure. I like the Celtics more every day that the West gets better and the Cs stay (relatively) injury-free (read: KG may be “rusty as hell,” but he’ll be ready come playoff time).
As this dude would say,
photos: http://www.manfredojr.co.uk/images/apollo-creed.jpg, http://alltalksports.files.wordpress.com/2007/08/shaq-and-kobe.jpg, http://www.juneauempire.com/images/102802/shaq.jpg
Update: Shaq debuted with 15 points and 9 rebounds in 130-124 loss (Kobe had 41 points)