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Shaquille s Rebirth
Congratulations Lakers, Kobe, you have all done us a favor, in reawakening the sleeping giant.
There is no doubt in the league that 7-1 center, Shaquille O’Neal, is the most dominating player in the league. There really isn’t anyone that comes close. This of course is far different that the most talented player in the league; but tell me, which would you prefer on your team, the most dominant or the most talented player?
Although you can say that Shaq’s skills are singular, capitalizing on his extraordinary strength and size, little remark about how quick and good his footwork is. Give him the ball within 5 feet of the net, and there is absolutely nothing you can do to stop him. The Lakers rode this formula to the bank, cashing in three championships along the way. Despite disappointing finishes the last two seasons, the Lakers were always in line to contend for the championship – always being the favorites to win going into the playoffs, with the deadly inside-out combination of Shaq and Kobe Bryant.
But that has all changed this past summer. It all began with a disgruntled star named Kobe, who was dissatisfied with not being the main man in LA. Kobe had discussions with Laker owner, Jerry Buss, who also serves as Kobe’s surrogate father, about the possibility of revamping the team so that he will be the one and only attraction. Bryant helped convinced Buss that coach Phil Jackson was no longer suitable to coach the team (despite leading them to 3 championships). Jackson was gone.
With Jackson gone, Shaquille, who was Jackson’s biggest proponent, was clearly agitated by the series of front-office decisions that had only confirmed what he already knew – that Kobe had way too much influence. This prompted his trade demand, which rocked the basketball world. Kobe, happy with all the developments, advised Buss that this was the time to trade him while he had high market value. And with a trade to the Miami Heat, Shaq was gone.
In retrospect, Kobe’s selfish- and Buss’ foolish- actions could be the best thing that has happened to Shaq in recent memory. Entering his 13th NBA season, Shaq has been the reigning dominant center for the last decade. However, for the last few years Shaq has looked disinterested and unmotivated in game play, and that’s even during the playoffs. But he continues to do all this while posting very good numbers. Just imagine what Shaq could do if he had the same commitment and dedication that other luminaries such as Michael Jordan or Larry Bird had. It seems that Shaq only really performs when he’s pissed off or has something to prove.
Enter this season. With Miami now as his new team, Shaq is freed from all the bureaucracy that distracted him while in Los Angeles. A change of scenery is always a good motivator, but Shaq, is more fueled by the bitter taste, which Kobe and the Lakers provided, lingering in his mouth. The big man has already shown commitment to be fully focused for the season, shedding 30 pounds for the preseason. In previous years, it would be customary for Shaq to show up to camp overweight. Another factor will be Miami’s fiery president, Pat Riley, who boasts an impressive resume. Having such accolades as winning 3 championships (while coaching the show-time Lakers of the 1980s) will aid in motivating Shaq, if his attention should wane with the rigors of the NBA season.
O’Neal, who has averaged 27.1 points and 12.1 rebounds in 12 seasons, has already vowed that he will lead the Heat to the promised land. While the Heat instantaneously become legitimate contenders with his addition, Shaquille will need to play hard throughout the entire season, something he really hasn’t done since his MVP year in 1999. The Heat are not very deep, with second year standout, Dwayne Wade, being the only other offensive weapon. It will not be an easy task to reach the Finals, but with a rejuvenated and motivated Shaq, you have to like the Heat’s chances.
And on Christmas Day of this year, every NBA fan will be treated to a present, when Shaq and Miami play Kobe and the Lakers. Look for Shaq’s (or Kobe’s) statement!