He’s never been a bench player before, but Shaquille O’Neal — 38 years old and well into the autumn of his basketball career – finally seems willing to embrace a lesser role.
Speaking with Jackie MacMullan about Marquis Daniels’s niche, Shaq (who MacMullan describes as “trim, focused, and hungry to begin”) explained why Daniels would be improved this season. The massive beast then uttered a two-sentence statement that excited me more than any of the other politically correct mumbo-jumbo he’s said so far.
“Here we come,” Shaq said he told Daniels. “We’re the BBM — the Boston Bench Mob.”
Music to my ears, soothing my heart and soul. If Shaq fully commits himself to coming off the bench — and he indicated to MacMullan that he expects to play a reserve role – many concerns about his acquisition become secondary. Adding someone who can score down low, command double teams, rebound well and is willing to come off the bench–and, oh by the way, happened to sign for the veteran’s minimum– CAN’T go wrong.
You know, until Shaq gets sick of playing ten minutes a game in February when Perkins comes back, and the Diesel’s good will deteriorates. Then, he’ll become The Big Distraction, single-handedly poisoning the Celtics’ chemistry with his egotistical antics. Before long, Celtics fans will pray for a return of the Shelden Williams era; at least he didn’t complain about minutes and touches he didn’t deserve. When Shaq does get into games, it’ll be sparingly and his pick and roll defense will make every fan in the TD Bank Garden nauseas. Every free throw will threaten to break the rim, and — being so disgruntled — he won’t rebound effectively. Doc Rivers will want to leave Shaq on the bench permanently, but the more he does, the more Shaq will act out.
So, to recap, Shaq will keep playing, even though 1) he’ll be a locker room cancer, 2) he’ll make the entire TD Bank Garden erupt in a barf-o-rama every time he attempts to defend a pick-and-roll, 3) his rebounding numbers will plummet, and 4) five of his free throw missiles will result in broken rims and/or backboards. Basically, Shaq’s teammates will hate him, his coach won’t want to play him, Wyc Grousbeck will have to pay for five new hoops, the team’s rebounding will get even worse, and the TD Bank Garden janitors will have one hell of a clean-up job every night.
Let’s hope Shaq really means this Boston Bench Mob talk. If not, the alternative’s pretty scary.