Shaq-to-Boston reaction

May 07, 2010 - Boston, MASSACHUSETTS, UNITED STATES - epa02148070 Cleveland Cavaliers center Shaquille O'Neal (C) dunks the ball in front of (L-R) Boston Celtics Kevin Garnett, Kendrick perkins and Paul Pierce in the third quarter of their Eastern Conference Semifinal round playoff game at the TD Bank Garden in Boston, Massachusetts, USA, 07 May 2010. The Cavaliers defeated the Celtics 124-95 to take a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series.

Zach Lowe, Celtics Hub: Shaq can be an asset for a team that ranked just 15th in points per possession and struggled to produce looks at the rim when Rajon Rondo couldn’t penetrate. Rondo and Paul Pierce are the C’s only real threats to create offense at the basket. When they are on the bench or pushed slightly off their game, Boston’s offense is reduced to a series of off-the-ball screens and side screen/rolls—last-gasp sequences run on the defensive, after the best options have been closed off. Against good defenses, those kinds of possessions ended too often with long, contested jumpers. Watch Game 7 again, if you can stomach it. Shaq could provide some relief from that. I’m not saying he’s going to be out there beside the starters with 5:00 to go in the 4th quarter of a playoff game. But put him out there with, say, three bench players and Ray Allen? He adds a dimension that wasn’t there last season.

Chris Forsberg, Although I’ll admit Boston fans can be amazingly fickle — just look at the backlash when former fan favorite Eddie House recently decided to join the Super Friends in Miami — it’s funny how embracing this city can be when that player comes to the Hub. A few thunderous two-handed jams, and Shaquille O’Neal will have the Garden eating out of his hand. Celtics fans probably don’t detest O’Neal based on his Los Angeles days because the two sides never met in a Finals. Some begrudge him more from his Orlando days, including when the Magic swept Boston in the first round of the 1995 playoffs, and in the final game at the Boston Garden, O’Neal (playfully) declared, “The Garden is closed for business.” You hate that player when he is on the other team; you love him when he’s on yours.

Steve Buckley, Boston Herald: True, Shaq is not just old, but real old. And he does have a way of altering locker room chemistry. And, um, well, you see, he, um, did take a meat clever to Perk’s face during the playoffs this season. But even an old Shaq makes the Celtics a better team. An old Shaq gives them a better chance of turning off the Heat. And that’s what the entire 2010-11 NBA season is all about: Some team needs to step up and defeat the Heat.

J.A. Adande, If you selectively filter the numerous statements Shaq has made over the years, then his joining the Boston Celtics actually makes sense. No, it doesn’t jibe with his dubious claims that he’d be out of the NBA by the time he was in his early 30s, either sitting in a media analyst’s chair or serving as the sheriff of some small county. But it does fit his oft-repeated statements that he needed to add to his ring collection. As he said numerous times over the years, including upon his arrival in Phoenix, “I need five and six.” Teams that could make that conversation a reality were limited. His options were further restricted by his own personal history of clashing with another superstar and trashing the owner (Lakers), tearing down the management and medical staff (Miami), or jilting the city once before (Magic), taking those franchises out of play. Other up-and-comers, such as the Thunder, aren’t interested in a mercenary player who won’t be part of the long-term plan. Shaq has more to gain from this endeavor than the Celtics do. The Celtics are the ones who reached the NBA Finals last season, beating O’Neal and the Cleveland Cavaliers along the way. He’s the one who’s joining ’em. The irony is this is strictly about playing basketball. Can’t say this is about money or market, the accusations lobbed at O’Neal when he left Orlando to join the Lakers in Hollywood. This makes the cycle of his career complete. There are those who thought he wasn’t focused enough on basketball at a young age, just as there will be those who consider this cold, blatant pursuit of a championship unbecoming.

Of course, you can read my take here.

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Shaq to have surgery on injured thumb

It looks like Shaquille O’Neal’s regular season may be over.

Now the Cavaliers hope the center they acquired for the postseason will be back in time for the playoffs.

O’Neal will undergo surgery Monday to repair his injured right thumb. He was examined Sunday by Dr. Thomas Graham at the National Hand Center in Baltimore. Graham will perform the surgery.

The Cavaliers said they will update a timeline for his return following the procedure, but a typical recovery period is 6 to 8 weeks. There are seven weeks left in the regular season.

With 22 games to play, the Cavs have a six-game lead on Orlando, so I don’t think they’re in any danger of giving up the top seed in the East. The greater concern to me is what kind of shape Shaq will be in when he returns to action. Six or seven weeks is a long time for a person with his weight issues to be sidelined, and he’s already looking a little heavy. While a thumb injury shouldn’t keep him off the treadmill, he doesn’t strike me as the kind of guy that is going to bust his butt to stay in top physical condition.

The Cavs may very well find their groove without Shaq in the lineup, and then his return could throw a monkey wrench into the machine. The good news is that he would return during the first or second round of the playoffs, so there would potentially be a series or two for him to work the kinks out. I think the greater concern is how his return would affect the way the Cavs play offensively.

Photo from fOTOGLIF

NBA News & Rumors: Shaq quotes, Bogut, Jackson, Agent Zero and Lopez

Shaq says Cavs are the best team he’s ever been on…at least on paper. Shaq has never been one to shy away from a juicy quote, but in touting his team, he calls Anderson Varejao “one of the top forwards in the league” and mentioned rookie Darnell Jackson by his nickname (D-Block). Um, okay. If it’s all the same, we’ll wait to see how this team fares on the court, especially in the playoffs. Did Shaq meet with the Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s Department? Shaq refused to confirm the report: “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he told The News-Herald. “Undercover officers aren’t allowed to talk about what’s going on.” Classic.

Andrew Bogut is ready for more work. Bogut is coming off a back injury that kept him out for much of the last four months of the 2008-09 season. Given his career numbers — 11.9 ppg, 8.7 rpg — he’s not a bust, but he’s certainly not what the Bucks were expecting when they took him with the #1 pick back in 2005. Milwaukee passed on Chris Paul and Deron Williams, two franchise-caliber point guards, and even Marvin Williams might be looking better right now since he’s been able to stay healthy. Bogut played in 82 games his rookie season, but since then, he has missed 27% of his team’s games and the Bucks haven’t made the postseason. This is a big year for the Aussie, who needs to prove that his contract (worth $60 million) is justified.

Stephen Jackson to the Cavs? This rumor has Jackson heading to Cleveland for Zydrunas Ilgauskas and his expiring contract. The Cavs are already loaded at the wing with LeBron, Jamario Moon and Anthony Parker, but the saga of Delonte West, might have the Cavs looking to add to the arsenal. However, it’s going to be tough to find minutes for all of these players as it stands, and Jackson isn’t one to sit quietly if he’s not getting what he believes to be appropriate playing time.

Is Gilbert Arenas changing his game? Arenas has always been a shoot-first point guard, but he only took five shots and dished out 10 assists against the Grizzlies on Tuesday. HC Flip Saunders wants him to be more aggressive, so we’re more likely to see a watered-down version of 2006 Agent Zero than some new, pass-first variety.

Nets looking to run offense through Brook Lopez. HC Lawrence Frank redesigned his offense to feature Lopez at the top of the key and at the elbows. He wants Lopez to facilitate, so expect the second-year center’s numbers to rise with all the additional touches.

Ranking the 50 highest-earning athletes compiled a ranking of the 50 highest-earning American athletes and discovered that Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson are at the top of the list.

1. Tiger Woods
Pro Golf
Last Year’s Rank: 1
Salary/Winnings: $7,737,626
Endorsements: $92,000,000
Total: $99,737,626

Tiger sacrificed millions in appearance fees during his year off to recover from knee surgery, but replaced his lucrative Buick deal — voided by mutual consent — with a new one from AT&T.

2. Phil Mickelson
Pro Golf
Last Year’s Rank: 2
Salary/Winnings: $6,350,356
Endorsements: $46,600,000
Total: $52,950,356

Like Tiger, Phil no longer counts on a car-maker in his endorsement portfolio. (Ford chose not to re-sign him.) He still has lucrative deals with Rolex, Callaway, Exxon, Barclay’s and KPMG.

3. LeBron James
Cleveland Cavaliers (NBA)
Last Year’s Rank: 3
Salary/Winnings: $14,410,581
Endorsements: $28,000,000
Total: $42,410,581

LeBron has one more season left under his deal before he can opt out. If Cleveland doesn’t show it’s Finals-worthy by next spring, expect the Knicks to come in with a huge offer.

4. Alex Rodriguez
New York Yankees (MLB)
Last Year’s Rank: 6 (tie)
Salary/Winnings: $33,000,000
Endorsements: $6,000,000
Total: $39,000,000

We’re in the middle of A-Rod’s peak earning power in his middle-loaded, 10-year megadeal: He’ll make another $33 million in 2010 and then gradually decrease to a “normal” $20 million by ’17.

No. 5 Shaquille O’Neal
Cleveland Cavaliers (NBA)
Last Year’s Rank: 6 (tie)
Salary/Winnings: $20,000,000
Endorsements: $15,000,000
Total: $35,000,000

The Big Bargaining Chip? Regardless of his trade to Cleveland, Shaq is in the final year of the five-year, $100 million deal he signed while with Miami. It’s the largest expiring deal in the NBA.

No. 10 Peyton Manning
Indianapolis Colts (NFL)
Last Year’s Rank: 9
Salary/Winnings: $14,500,000
Endorsements: $13,000,000
Total: $27,000,000

NFL’s top endorser has distributed $500,000 in grants in ’09 through his PayBack Foundation to charities in Indianapolis, near his alma mater (Tennessee) and his hometown, New Orleans.

It’s amazing that the highest paid NFL player (Peyton Manning) barely cracked the top 10. Granted, the NFL only has a 17-game regular season, but you’d think that for what football players put their bodies through every season that they would make more than baseball players, golfers and basketball players.

Although he is pitching well this season despite his overall numbers, seeing Zito’s name on this list at No. 26 makes me shudder. He’s the third best pitcher (maybe fourth depending on how high you value Randy Johnson) on his own club, yet he’s the 26th highest-earning American athlete. Still, it should be noted that Zito donates $400 for every strikeout that he throws to the Strikeouts for Troops charity that he created to help hospitals treat soldiers that are wounded in military operations. In fact, as the article notes, a lot of the guys on this list give thousands of dollars to charities every year and that shouldn’t be overlooked.

Couch Potato Alert: 6/5

This could be a weekend of “firsts.” Calvin Borel could become the first jockey to record a Triple Crown on two separate horses. With “The King of Clay” Rafael Nadal out of the picture, Roger Federer could capture his first Grand Slam championship at the French Open. And Kobe Bryant could be halfway home to his first NBA title without Shaq.

All times ET…

NBA Finals
Sun, 8 PM: Orlando Magic @ Los Angeles Lakers (ABC)

Stanley Cup Finals
Sat, 8 PM: Pittsburgh Penguins @ Detroit Red Wings (NBC)

Sat, 4:10 PM: Philadelphia Phillies @ Los Angeles Dodgers (FOX)
Sun., 1:30 PM: Texas Rangers @ Boston Red Sox (TBS)
Sun., 8 PM: Philadelphia Phillies @ Los Angeles Dodgers (ESPN)

French Open
Fri, 5 AM: Women’s Semifinals (Tennis Channel)
Fri, 10 AM: Men’s Semifinals (NBC)
Sat, 9 AM: Women’s Finals (NBC)
Sun, 9 AM: Men’s Finals (NBC)

Horse Racing
Sat, 5 PM: The Belmont Stakes at Belmont Park (ABC)

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