Commentary By Kevin Hess
So the rent-a-Shaq experiment continues now with his recent trade to the Cleveland Cavaliers, where he will team with the greatest finisher the league has ever seen in LeBron James.
Wow. This could be fun.
Even though O?Neal has just one year remaining on his contract, he should be plenty motivated to cement his legacy by winning championships with the three greatest perimeter players of our era -- Kobe Bryant, Dwyane Wade and perhaps James. If O'Neal does that, he instantly becomes the third best center in league history behind Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlin.
You need proof? Look at the numbers. O?Neal for his career has averaged 24.7 points and 11.2 rebounds per game. Dwight Howard doesn?t have the offensive polish. Tim Duncan isn?t really a center -- he?s the prototype power forward. And Yao Ming, who has the closest numbers to Shaq in a career for a true pivot (19.1 and 9.3), can?t stay healthy -- plus, he hasn?t even come close to sniffing a ring. In comparison, O?Neal averaged 17.8 points and 8.4 rebounds last season ? at age 37.
It?s time for everyone who says O'Neal is slowing down and can?t coexist with teammates to shove it and just enjoy the show. He?s a guy who?s always great for a quote and has been good to the media for years, constantly deflecting attention away from his teammates who couldn?t handle the spotlight.
Shaq has the championship pedigree James wants for himself. Cavaliers general manager Danny Ferry is trying to build a roster around his star -- in an effort to win a championship and more importantly keep James in Cleveland for the rest of his career.
What more could James need? He?s got a solid perimeter core around him in Mo Williams and Delonte West. Up front, Zydrunas Ilgauskas and Shaq team with Anderson Varejao to give the Cavs plenty of beef up front. And then there is that James fellow himself, a guy who has numbers not seen since Oscar Robertson. No longer will James be relied upon to win games all by himself. That?s what they got when Williams from the Milwaukee Bucks integrated himself very nicely into their system. The same can be said of Shaq. His winning experience and physical presence should be the final piece of the puzzle for the city of Cleveland?s long championship drought.
The Big-Detective has arrived to find the clue to King James? quest.