Kendrick Perkins is back, and he's made it perfectly clear he expects to regain his starting spot.
Which is entirely fine, with only one potential problem: the Celtics have a certain 15-time All-Star who took over Perk's starting spot, and has worked quite well with the starting unit. The 15-time All-Star -- his name is Shaq, for those of you still wondering -- has been known for an ego almost as colossal as his Mt. Everest-sized body.
But that was a previous life, Shaq's so-called "CEO" years. The Big Diesel now insists his only focus is on 1825 -- or, in other words, the franchise's 18th championship; the Big Three Era's second championship; and Shaq's fifth championship.
And Perk? He cautions not to worry about any battle for minutes between the two behemoths who now anchor Boston's middle. (OC Register)
"I mean, it shouldn’t be (any trouble)," he said. "Shaq has been great.
"Shaq’s goal is win a championship. He don’t care what he needs to do to get that at this point. He wants to win that fifth ring and get on up out of here. We’re trying for a championship. It’s bigger than the both of us."
Considering that Perk and Shaq combine to make a rather imposing 14-feet tall, 700-ish pound Mack truck, "it's bigger than the both of us" is pretty big.
The fact is, these Celtics hold a championship in higher regard than any individual goals, and that's the real reason Shaq decided to come to Boston. It's no coincidence that Shaq's other top choice this summer was the San Antonio Spurs; he wanted to join a selfless club where he could fit in, contend for a championship, and not have to deal with the personal agendas of teammates whose heads were in the wrong place.
The first sign of Shaq's willingness to throw away his pride occurred this summer, when the Celtics initially weren't all that interested in Shaq's services. Most 15-time All-Stars (I say "most", but there actually aren't too many of those walking around) would be too prideful to seek Doc Rivers' approval. Not Shaq. He distanced himself from his pride, and called Rivers himself. He invited himself to Rivers' home, where Shaq promised he could play a minimal role. He promised he could do whatever Rivers asked of him. He promised he only wanted to fit in, to help this selfless team win another championship in whatever way Rivers needed. He more or less interviewed for his spot on the team, and Rivers was impressed. If Shaq didn't really want to fit in, why would he go to such lengths to prove that he did?
Three months into the Shaq experiment, everything has worked out handsomely. On this bunch of selfless winners, Shaq -- I know of no other way to say this -- just works. He's lived up to every promise he made to Rivers this summer. But he will most likely, and soon, become a backup for the first time in his career. And that will be the biggest test yet for his as-to-now subservient ego.
At times like these, while I ponder whether the Celtics can continue to shove their egos aside for the team's sake, I find myself wondering just how crowded the Celtics' frontcourt would be if Jermaine O'Neal were still alive -- err, I mean still healthy.