Shaq’s return was quicker than my latest shower, quicker than an episode of Entourage, quicker than many of the songs on Kanye West’s latest album.
“I blinked and he was gone,” said Ray Allen.
But Steve Bulpett offered a great point.
“The talk that Shaq must be fully ready by the start of the playoffs is misguided,” he wrote in the Boston Herald. “If the Celtics cannot win a first-round series without Shaq (or with him in a limited role), then there may be no point to their championship dreams anyway.”
If there was one positive to take from Shaq’s far-quicker-than-we-had-hoped return, it’s this: he can return from a long layoff and instantly become a factor. He doesn’t need weeks to play himself into the rotation. He doesn’t need weeks of repetition to shake off the rust. He can just drag his big ol’ behind off the injured list and immediately make his mark. Because he’s such a smart player, because he stands as tall as Hagrid (sorry for the Harry Potter reference, folks, but I love that ish), because he weighs as much as my Toyota Corolla, Shaq could probably roll out of bed after an eight-week drinking binge and still score a few buckets. (Two points—1: I’m not calling Shaq an alcoholic. Actually, I remember hearing him say he has never had a sip of alcohol. And 2: That’d be one hell of a drinking binge.)
Shaq’s ability to help immediately upon his return to the lineup allows Boston to rest him as much as possible. If that means holding him out of the first round series against the New York Knicks or Philadelphia 76ers, so be it. Nenad Krstic and Jermaine O’Neal should be enough to fend off Ronny Turiaf or Spencer Hawes (knock on wood), so the Celtics shouldn’t need Shaq to beat those teams anyway. If he can take that time to get healthy (or, in Shaq’s case, health-ier), maybe he’ll actually stay on the court for more than six minutes next time he returns.
Or maybe he won’t need all that rest. He could play as early as Friday, though Doc Rivers said the Celtics would shut Shaq down for the season if they needed to.
“If that’s what it requires,” he said. “We’re going to do whatever they tell us is required. Other than that, I would love to play him a couple of games.
“It’s just a calf strain and not that bad, not that severe. He may play at the end of the week; we’re just not sure yet. Eddie (Lacerte, team trainer) and (team physician Dr. Brian) McKeon thought (it’s a) minor injury, not a big deal — except for it’s Shaq, he’s big and he’s 30-whatever (39).”
No matter how much time the Celtics afford Shaq to heal from his strained calf, his health will be like Kanye West’s song Heard ‘Em Say—”nothing’s ever promised tomorrow, today.” That song also continues, “But we’ll find a way. . . . It hurts, but it may be the only way.”
Sounds about right, no?
P.S. — I tried my best to set the world record for Kanye West references in one blog post. I imagine I failed that quest, because I still only made two references. It’s too bad I wasn’t writing about Larry Bird, because then I could have brought up “Jesus Walks,” or Troy Murphy, because then I could have told you how “It All Falls Down,” or Rasheed Wallace, who could have demonstrated “We Don’t Care,” or Zach Randolph, whose friends are “Drug Dealing Just to Get By.” Alright, I’m done.
P.P.S. — I know I said I was done, but Glen Davis could definitely use a new “Workout Plan.”