But Webber perfected the art of b.s. He's such a gregarious person that you honestly
Reminds me of
In personality, Shaq is similar to Webber. When asked recently at what point he accepted his position as the second or third guy on a team, O'Neal said, "When I looked up and saw that I was right behind
Technically, he is right. He is one spot removed from passing the Big Dipper. However, he is more than 3,300 points back, so
The point is that O'Neal is not always dealing with the reality of the situation, particularly when the reality tends to diminish his eminence. And the reality is that it took a new, less-involved role for Shaq in order for the Cavaliers to hit their stride, which they clearly have done. If their two-game regular-season sweep of the defending champion Lakers is any indication, O'Neal could well be on his way to a fifth championship. By O'Neal's mathematics, that's Russell's minus Wilt's minus Kobe's titles.
Two months ago, it was realistic to criticize the Cavs for the acquisition of O'Neal, who seemed to clog up the middle for the hard-driving
"I think it was an adjustment for everyone," James said. "Not just Shaq, but
"But at this point, for the most part, we know where guys want the ball and where their good spots and bad spots are. We have ironed that out at this point where we are playing good basketball."
"It has been by design with Shaq," Brown said. "Obviously he's a little older now, and the more we can help save his legs during the regular season, the better. He may not play a ton of minutes, but he has been extremely effective for us. Right now there is really no need to play him [big minutes] all these games we have during the regular season."
To his credit, O'Neal, averaging career lows in points (11.2), rebounds (6.7) and blocks (1.1), has accepted his role as the team's third option, behind James and guard
"If you think about people in my position, people who have dominated the ball my whole career, I could easily come here and try to dominate the ball," said O'Neal, who is averaging only 8.2 shots per game. "But being a student of the game and knowing how the game is changing [he motions his head toward James], that would be a very ill-advised move.
"Plus, as a fan of the game, I have three sons who love LeBron. I would rather them come and watch the game and let him get off then throw it down to the Big Fella 20 or 25 times, with the Big Fella being 38 [years old]. The young Shaq, yeah, throw it to him 25 or 30 times. But [James] is 25 or 26, so he is going to take most of the shots. Mo is going to take the second most and I will get my eight or 10. Which is fine. We have been wining like that."
See? You want to believe what he says. Even if he is not quite certain if he is 37 or 38. (He'll be 38 in March.)
What looked like a mistake by general manager
"One thing you know," James said, "is Shaq is going to be in the paint, and when you run the pick-and-roll, he is going to roll for the most part. And Z is going to pop. The difference between Shaq and Z is that Z spreads the floor more than Shaq and Shaq controls the interior.
"We are going to do what benefits us."
The $20 million question (which happens to be O'Neal's salary) is, What happens with the center rotation when the postseason arrives?
"Depends on who we are playing," Brown said. "If we are playing a team where we can match up without him playing big minutes, then it probably will happen. But if we are playing Orlando or Boston or something like that, his minutes will go from 21 to 30 or whatever we need him to go."
And the world will be watching, which, regardless of what pizza story O'Neal tells, always tends to inspire him to play his best.