I keep telling my mom I’m going to clean my room, yet the clothes keep piling up. Every day she bugs me to clean up; every day I roll my eyes and tell her, “Yeah, mom, as soon as I’m done writing. No big deal.” I believe my words, too. I always think I’m actually going to clean my room. Inevitably, though, something comes up and cleaning my room doesn’t seem like such a good deal anymore. One of my friends wants to go golfing, or a bunch of my friends want to get liquored up at the bar. When I tell my mom I am going to clean my room, I mean it. But things change.
That’s kind of what Doc Rivers is worried about — what I’M worried about — with Shaquille O’Neal. Shaq is saying all the right things now; he wants to be a team player (“I’m going to do whatever they ask me to do,” he said at his introductory press conference), he’s fine with coming off the bench (according to CSNNE,when Rivers asked him if he would be, Shaq replied “Absolutely coach,” ), yada yada yada. But what happens in the middle of February, when Kendrick Perkins comes back and all of a sudden Shaq has to split backup minutes with Jermaine O’Neal? What happens when Shaq receives his first ever DNP-CD? Will he be singing the same teamwork tune then?
I’m not sold. Shaq’s 38 years old. He’s a former MVP. He has started during every single season of his career. He’s always been a star. He’s got an ego the size of a small village. He makes up nicknames for himself, loves the limelight, and has spent his entire career promoting his individual star as much as his basketball career. He is Kazam, Shaq-tis, Neon Bordeaux, Shaq Fu and Shaq Attaq. He complains about touches, sends parting shots at almost every organization he leaves and has thus made plenty of enemies. And he has never, EVER been considered a quality role player who meshes well with the players around him.
“All players tell you what you want to hear in August,” Doc told John Thompson during an interview with ESPN 980 in Washington. Yes, they do. And yes, Shaq is. But words don’t mean anything when they don’t match actions. Just ask my mom. She’s starting to get really pissy about my damn room.