The offseason is always the honeymoon period with newly signed free agents. Conflict and fan anger don’t surface until the games are played. But, so far, newly signed Shaquille O’Neal is saying all the right things. Shaq has repeatedly talked about how happy he is to be in the championship environment of Boston, and now says he will be happy to accept a backup role. (Boston Herald)
“I’m at the point of my career where I’m a role player,” O’Neal told reporters at a charity basketball game in Orlando, Fla., on Saturday. “I’m going to do whatever they ask me to do. I’m not looking to come up there and dominate the ball and do too much. Whatever they need me to do, I’m going to do.”
It’s great that Shaq is saying he’ll do whatever Doc needs from him, but I’m not buying in just yet. It’s not easy for people to change. And, for almost two decades, Shaq has been a larger than life figure with a, ahem, healthy ego. I’m not saying Shaq can’t change and accept a lesser role, but I’ll believe it when I see him waving towels from the bench in appreciation of the starters. Though if Shaq were to change, Boston would be the place for him to do it. Doc Rivers is a master of psychology and the veteran examples of Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett may teach Shaq what sacrifice is all about.
But as he’s poised to join a team led by the highly respected Rivers and a veteran group, O’Neal seems intent on not rocking the boat.
“Every person that has been on a championship team has had to sacrifice something,” O’Neal said. “Obviously I’m at the end of my career and I just wanted to be at a place that has a winning tradition. Boston has that . . . This kind of reminds of the old Boston teams where they had four legitimate first-ballot Hall of Famers on the same team.”
If Shaq can fit in, and accept fewer minutes, watch out league. Our starting lineup has already proven its dominance. With Shaq leading the second unit, our bench has the chance to be fantastic offensively. Nate Robinson and Von Wafer– two very good shooters– should benefit tremendously from the defensive pressure Shaq receives.
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