From the Department of All-Star Nominees Not Being Based Anywhere Near Solely On Quality of Play: Shaquille O'Neal's All-Star prospects are good enough to be considered 'in jeopardy.'
As read on NBA.com:
Shaquille O'Neal will learn shortly whether he earned a record 15th straight selection to the NBA's All-Star lineup.
If the coaches choose him as a reserve - their vote will be revealed Thursday - O'Neal sounds like he may want to play.
"Right now, I'm just trying to get as close to 70 percent healthy and then we'll see,'' O'Neal said. "If I come back playing and get voted in, it's something I'll think about. ... If I get voted in, I won't be extra happy. If I don't get voted in, I won't be extra sad.''
Seriously? Shaq's prospects are good enough to even merit this discussion? This is news to me.
When he has been in the lineup, Shaq has played decent basketball at best. His minutes are down, and his numbers are way down, all the way to 14.2 points and 7.8 rebounds per game. While some of that may be due to the inability of his teammates to get him the ball in the right spots in the post and Pat Riley's seeming refusal to run the offense through him, it is clear that Shaq is nowhere near the man considered for a long time to be the most dominant basketball force on the planet.
Chances are, the closest thing to a back-up center that the East will have is Toronto big man Chris Bosh. But in the event that Bosh ends up on the roster as a forward, one would have to imagine that Zydrunas Ilgauskas -- he of the 13.9 points and 9.5 rebounds per game to go with a far lower turnover rate than Shaq has -- would get the nod, given the fact that he is playing every night for a playoff contender. Meanwhile, Shaq occasionally suits up for the worst team in the Eastern Conference. And he is due to miss time with another injury.
I have plenty of respect for Shaq's legacy and for what he is worth to this league. But let's get rid of this 'in jeopardy' business regarding Shaq's All-Star streak. If 'quality of play' has any credence left regarding the All-Star reserves, Shaquille O'Neal isn't even in the discussion.