Why did Shaq sign with the Celtics?

Boston Celtics head coach Doc Rivers (R) presents his jersey to newly signed Celtics player Shaquille O'Neal at a news conference in Waltham, Massachusetts August 10, 2010.  REUTERS/Brian Snyder  (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)

Bill Simmons’ latest column delves into ‘chewed-on theories’ and one question he tries to answer is why Shaq would sign with the C’s for the league minimum. He believes it goes back to Kobe’ response after Game 7 of the Finals when he was asked what this title meant to him.

His response?

“I got one more than Shaq! You can take that to the bank.”

O’Neal signed with Boston because “when I close my book at the end of the day, it’s all about winning and nothing else.” This was someone who told a teammate before the final game of his 2009 Suns season — when they had just been eliminated from playoff contention — that he “needed to start getting in shape for my reality show.” Game 82 and you need to get in shape? Huh? Now you suddenly care about winning titles again? Now you’re fine with swallowing your dignity to be a spare part, a minimum guy, an afterthought, someone with no security at all? Just to chase a ring? When you already have four?

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.

It certainly seems reasonable. My sense is that Shaq is not happy with the way things went in Phoenix or Cleveland and is hoping to make him relevant again for one more playoff run. Of course, he’d love to beat the Heat and the Lakers along the way.

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The NBA’s 10 Top Moments of the Decade

Nice work by Shaun Powell over at NBA.com

There are moments, and then there are Moments, the kind that tattoo themselves into your memory bank, making them hard to forget easily. The NBA had its share during the 2000s, certainly more that can be summed up in a few sentences.

Here’s a Top 10, confining the good and not-so-good moments to the on-court kind only that helped shape the decade.

10. Greg Oden out for the season, 2007 (and now, this one). When they drafted Greg Oden first overall in 2007, the Blazers had visions of another Bill Walton. Careful what you wish for. Oden quickly adopted Walton’s black cat and underwent microfracture surgery on his right knee. And then, just last week, he fractured his left patella. He doesn’t deserve this. Nobody does.

9. Cavaliers draft LeBron James, 2003. After a 17-win season, there wasn’t really much of a surprise what the Cavaliers would do with the first overall pick. Still, it was a major moment for the franchise, to be able to draft a local (well, Akron) and add instant buzz to a city long associated with professional sports heartbreak. LeBron made the Cavs good and Cleveland a destination. Imagine.

Read the rest after the jump.

West wins in a snoozer

The picture says it all. Shaq and Kobe won co-MVP awards as the West rolled over the East, 146-119.

While jealousies and drama tore Shaq and Kobe apart years ago, there was nothing but love Sunday at U.S. Airways Center. They shared the stage at the end, too, each grabbing his third All-Star Game MVP award. Bryant put this pairing with The Big Legendary in perspective.

“We’re not going to go back to the room and watch Steel Magnolias or something like that, you know what I’m saying, crying, all that stuff,” Bryant cracked. “We had a good time. That’s all.”

Bryant led all scorers with 27 points. LeBron James paced the East with 20. But it was O’Neal, the self-proclaimed “Godfather of the NBA”, who owned the highlight of the night. The third-quarter delight began at the 3-point line in a matchup of one-time Orlando centers.

The Magic’s first All-Star center (O’Neal) passed the ball through the legs of the latest, Dwight Howard, and into the waiting hands of West teammate Chris Paul. O’Neal took the return dish and nearly took the basket down with a two-handed ferocity.

The fun didn’t end there. Two slams later, Shaq decided to do pull-ups on the rim. Working against East backup “center” Rashard Lewis, the dunks kept coming and the West’s lead expanded accordingly. Kobe helped set up a few of O’Neal’s signature scores.

For the record, I thought the duo’s camaraderie was fake. After all, it was only a few months ago that Shaq wanted Kobe to tell him how his a** tastes. Kobe was probably instructed by his PR people to go out of his way to make nice with Shaq, as it would only help his image.

The game itself was competitive for much of the first half, but the West pulled away with a run in the third quarter. It seemed like the starters of the East could keep things tight, but when the Eastern reserves came into the game, passing went out the window and players started jacking up really quick shots. It didn’t help that the East didn’t have another true big man outside of Dwight Howard. One of the reasons Shaq had a big night was due to the fact that Rashard Lewis was covering him when the second units were in. That’s just not going to work.

Joe Johnson might want to forget his All-Star experience. He was 0-4 from the field and failed to score. Doug Collins suggested that it might have something to do with returning to Phoenix, where Johnson once played.

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