Postgame Amusement From the Desert

A Daily Babble Production

It's been a whirlwind week for Celtics fans.  In a span of barely 48 hours, Mikki Moore debuted in green, the Celts lost a miserable game to the Clippers, Gabe Pruitt got arrested and the Stephon Marbury circus officially arrived.  The Pistons are coming to visit in just a few hours for the Celtics' fifth game across three different time zones in eight days.  So we're taking an interlude for some Sunday morning NBA light-heartedness before the game faces return this afternoon.  Credit Chris Bosh and Shaquille O'Neal for showing up at the mic at just the right time this weekend.

Shaq brought the pain when the Toronto Raptors visited Phoenix on Friday night.  He hit 20 of his 25 shots from the field en route to posting 45 points and 11 rebounds in what was easily his most dominant performance of the season.  The Suns rolled in the fourth quarter en route to a 133-113 rout.  Hats off to the Big Fella (or Aristotle or Cactus or whatever it is that people call him these days) for a throwback performance.

Chris Bosh, the guy on the receiving end of some of Shaq's punishment, didn't see it quite that way.

As reported by the AP's Bob Baum:

"He was just camping down in the lane," Bosh said Friday night, after O'Neal's biggest scoring night in six years led Phoenix to a 133-113 victory over the Raptors. "I mean, if they're not calling three seconds — I thought it was a rule, but I guess not."

This is at once both amusing and mildly disheartening.

It's funny that Chris Bosh's naivete lives to the point of him believing that Shaquille O'Neal was going to be called for too many (any?) three-second violations on Friday night.  Like several other stars, Shaq has played by his own set of rules throughout his career.  He has long been able to get away with extra contact offensively thanks to his immense frame, and it's hard to remember him running into too much trouble parking himself just about anywhere over the last decade and a half.  Reading about Bosh's surprise over this issue made me smile.

It's disheartening because...well, check out that last paragraph again.  That Bosh hasn't picked up the realities of Shaq's world yet leads to a chuckle.  That those sorts of realities exist, not so much.

As for the man of the hour, he provided pure comedy.  More from Baum's recap:

"It was cool," O'Neal said. "Guys were really looking for me. I've been saying all year if I can get those touches like that, I think I can do that every night."

O'Neal still insists no one can guard him one on one.

"I'm the only player," he said, "who looks at each and every center and says to myself, 'That's barbecued chicken down there.'"

Sure.  He's a week shy of 37 years old, and his revival season in Phoenix (which has been rather impressive) has brought him all the way back to being a reasonable shadow of his former self.  In 51 games this season, he has scored at least 20 points 17 times and broken 30 twice.  But 40 points every night should be no problem.  All he'll have to do is shoot 80 percent and take more than a quarter of his team's field-goal attempts every time out.  Done and done!

As for the "barbecued chicken" line, I can offer only a rueful smile.  Shaq is a character.

His basketball ability may not be what it once was, but the sizable fella will always be a great sound bite.

That concludes your morning interlude for goofing on athlete-speak.  We now return to your regularly scheduled stretch-run programming.

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