The latest victim of the Celtics’ injury bug? Shaquille O’Neal, who left last night’s game with a sore hip after less than seven minutes of playing time.
Shaq did not make the trip to Washington with the team, meaning he almost certainly won’t play tonight against the Wizards. He could play Tuesday against Cleveland, but Doc Rivers said the team would probably need Semih Erden the next couple games. (Green Street)
“We’re going to need him probably the next couple of games,” Rivers said of Erden. “We’re probably not going to take [O'Neal] on the trip. I think it’s his hip. Something locked up. We’ll just have to see how long that will be.”
After Wednesday night’s game against Detroit, Rivers explained what it’s like for an old body like Shaq’s.
“Honest to God, when you get old, there’s days the legs work and days they don’t,” Rivers said. “And you can’t call them. Honest to God, in my last year, there was no rhyme or reason. You can play a back-to-back game, the second day you felt great and the first — it made no sense. And you know, I think that’s who he will be.”
As a 23-year old who stopped working out for a full year and thus has the body of a 38-year old geezer like Shaq, I can vouch for Doc’s theory. Some days I wake up and hunch over when I walk because my back hurts so bad. I limp because my leg throbs with pain, and I don’t even know why it hurts — until I realize I spent ten minutes on the treadmill the previous day. I try to play basketball, except I look like Rasheed Wallace — I travel from three-point arc to three-point arc, and play as if the painted area has a restraining order on me — mostly because my body feels like Big Baby sat on me for three straight weeks.
There are other days when I wake up and feel like Zeus. I head to the gym and sprint on the eliptical machine for a full hour. I bench press and set personal records, and lift heavy weights like they’re feathers (admittedly, the “lift heavy weights like they’re feathers” part is a slight exaggeration). I scrimmage against my JV players in practice, and — yes, I know I’m a former college basketball player playing against high school JV players — I play like I never missed a beat. On days like that, my body actually does what I tell it to. Just like the old days, back when my body was cut from stone (or, rather, cut from something besides flab).
And so I understand why Shaq’s body doesn’t cooperate every night. I feel your pain, Shaq. The silver lining to Shaq’s latest injury is that we now get to see Semih Erden play more basketball for the next game or two (or however many). And though it hurts to see Shaq hurt after he’d played so well the past couple games, long live the Turk.