So Bill Simmons came up with a theory about why Shaq decided to sign with the Celtics. I can’t lie, the theory got me pumped up even if I don’t really believe it. If this theory is true and Shaq is motivated for the first time in years, the Celtics could be some lucky dudes. (ESPN)
A few minutes before, when everyone was celebrating in the Lakers locker room, Kobe let everyone know how much he enjoyed passing Shaq in the ring department. He did it loudly. Boisterously. Euphorically. With a few expletives. I’ve heard this story a few different ways, but in each version, Kobe sounded a little like Tupac lighting everyone up at the end of “Hit ‘Em Up.” But “everyone” was Shaq. You know, a little revenge for the “Tell Me How My Ass Taste” rap. And that’s fine. I love this stuff. It warms my heart to know that, in an era in which the league’s best players would rather join forces than beat one another, two of the best 12 players of all time still despise each other [...]
And I don’t think Shaq liked it. At all. Remember, Shaq could have gone to Greece or Italy, pocketed crazy money ($8 million to $10 million easy, tax-free), gained as much weight as he wanted, traveled Europe, dunked on a bunch of inferior opponents, become America’s most beloved basketball export and expanded his brand to another part of the world. I can’t imagine his business manager or agent advising him any differently [...]
My theory: I think Kobe’s postgame routine got back to Shaq. I think it pissed him off. I think it got his competitive juices flowing for the first time in years. I think he realized Boston was his best chance to tie Kobe at five. I think he wants this more than anything. I think he shows up next month in surprisingly good shape, and I think we’ll be saying in November, “Wow, that Shaq signing may have been a great move by Boston!” And I think this will happen for only one reason: because Shaq hates Kobe and Kobe hates Shaq. Just a theory.
Okay, so now that I got Simmons’ theory out of the way, here’s MY theory. Basically, Simmons is my idol and the reason I even write about sports. I just think he dodged the more realistic and obvious explanation on this one.
- Shaq originally wanted $8 million a year to play. Seeing that no team in its right mind would ever commit that kind of money to a 38-year old center who last year got a reputation for making his own team worse, he finally decided to lower his demands.
- The list of teams Shaq could have played for was small. He wanted to play for a contender and he wanted to play some serious minutes. The contender part limited his options to Miami, LA, Orlando, Boston, and (just because I heard these teams mentioned a few times) Atlanta and San Antonio. The playing time factor ruled out Orlando, as Dwight Howard and Marcin Gortat play all the center minutes there.
- Shaq being an asshole crossed out the next two teams, Miami and LA. He burned a whole lot of bridges in those cities when he left, and those teams weren’t about to let bygones be bygones just so they could sign an old-ass center with some serious question marks surrounding his game.
- That left Boston, Atlanta and San Antonio. Atlanta didn’t work because the Hawks promised Shaq he wasn’t going to be able to start. Even though Al Horford has less size than a 1985 power forward, the Hawks want to let him continue to start at center. I guess they thought Horford starting at center worked so well against Orlando in the playoffs they might as well keep it for this year. Zing. From Shaq’s standpoint, why would he want to play in Atlanta when he couldn’t start and they’re a quasi-contender at best?
- So now it was down to San Antonio and Boston. San Antonio felt like a good option to Shaq. They have a great franchise and they’re still very competitive, even as they battle through injuries to their own big three every single season. But then they signed Tiago Splitter and Shaq realized, “Uh-oh, I won’t have a starting spot there either.” He looked at the rest of the roster, saw that Antonio McDyess was going to play minutes and so were Matt Bonner and DeJuan Blair, and suddenly Shaq was looking at an old, probably washed-up team that hardly had any minutes for him. Not exactly the best situation for the Diesel.
- Which left Boston. Boston was perfect for Shaq. Not only did the C’s make the Finals last year, but Kendrick Perkins’ injury left an opening in the starting lineup. Shaq might not start, but he’s at least guaranteed to get some serious minutes and contend for a championship, all at the same time. As Stuart Scott would say, Boo-Yah. Shaq had his destination.
- Oh, yeah. And Simmons also mentioned something about how Shaq’s advisors must have suggested that signing overseas would expand his brand. But Simmons also mentioned something about Shaq’s career $300 million earnings (just in salary!). Why go overseas to expand your brand if you’ve made $300 million and can stay in your own country?
- I don’t know what you guys think, but I’m pretty sure I just went all Ace Ventura NBA Detective on this one.