I've held off "reporting" the various extracurricular activities and tidal wave of attention that Shaq gets up to this point because, well, it all seems very silly. If you thought Starbury was a traveling circus show, wait till we get a few months of the Shaq show. The first few days have been a whirlwind of sorts. Consider the following non-news-but-somehow-news items.
- As always, Shaq needs a new nickname
- Henry Abbott vs. Tom Ziller have a bet over who will be better, Shaq or Darko (really)
- Shaq warns that Jim Rome could get "Greg Ostertag'd" (I admit, I laughed at that)
- Tune in Tuesday night for Shaq Vs. on ABC (I wish that was a paid endorsement)
- How Shaq and "Adolescent Ron Howard" sealed the deal (Doc Funk)
Of course, all of this is simply sideshow. All that matters is what happens on the court. But what happens if the sideshow becomes a distraction? We openly wonder what the distraction of Delonte's baggage could do to the team. But in some respects, couldn't Shaq be more of one?
O'Neal absolutely, positively, needs the spotlight. He craves it, he feeds off of it, he simply can't get enough of it. Hey, it works for him. He's a funny guy and for the most part likable and perhaps most importantly (for him) he's extremely marketable. Don't pity him for taking a paycut to play in Boston, he's pocketed over $290M in salary over his career and made $15M in endorsements last year alone.
So how will a guy like that manage to "just fit in" to the Celtics Ubuntu attitude about "we not me?" He talked a good game about winning a "ring for the King" last year but there were rumblings that all was not rosey at the end. In fact, he's burned bridges at just about every stop he's been at. Why do we think Boston will be immune?
Already there are questions about exactly what role Shaq expects to play on the Celtics. Everyone assumed that he was happy to take a backup role to Perkins and the other O'Neal. Not so fast (allegedly).
I’ve been told that Atlanta wouldn’t budge on giving Shaq a starting nod over Al, who is after all still only 24-years old and an All-Star. Shaq believes he will get the starting nod over Jermaine O’Neal in Boston as Kendrick Perkins rehabs from his knee injury.
That might be news to Jermaine. Taking it one step further, Chris Forsberg has been openly wondering why Shaq left Perkins out of his introductory comments and why Perkins thus far hasn't commented on the Big Insurance Policy yet.
Is this making something out of nothing. Most likely yes. But that's what you get with the attention that Shaq draws to himself and that's my whole point. This stuff is going to pop up all year long. And when the chapter is closed on the Shaq era, we'll all have to wince and hope that the bridge he burns here isn't quite so bad as his former stomping grounds.
Of course, winning solves everything. If the team is winning, it will be all Shrek and Donkey and Shaq-fu and smiles and good times all day long. I'm just hoping it will be Ubuntu and brotherhood and "us against the world" when things inevitably get bumpy.
(note: that was a lot of linking - if you missed any of the above, please go back and look at them all so my effort won't have been in vein ...or is it vain?)