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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