Trading Shaq should work for Suns
56 commentsby Dan Bickley - Jun. 18, 2009 01:48 PM
The Arizona Republic
Profile: Shaquille O'Neal
Forget the dark side and the petty jealousies. Shaquille O'Neal is a funny guy. He's the only person worth observing on Twitter, mostly because he thinks it's a stupid concept, too.
Like his June 12 post about passing gas.
"If others can smell you, u gotta be able to smell yourself Pfffffffffffff I farted Aggggh Can u smell dat Lol."
More than 1.3 million people currently follow O'Neal's staccato riffs of personality. And you wonder how this country became stuck in the kiddie pool ...
Shaq covers a lot of ground. One year ago, he was blasting Kobe Bryant in a rap song, and the lyrics were so crude that Sheriff Joe Arpaio took away O'Neal's coveted deputy badge. Now, Bryant is an NBA champion, an Olympic hero and O'Neal is acting like the two are close pals, tweeting his respect minutes after the Lakers won the NBA Finals.
"Congratulations kobe, u deserve it. You played great. Enjoy it my man enjoy it ... "
Remember one of O'Neal's famous lines as a member of the Suns, back when he was blasting away at Bill Walton? How the one thing he hates in life is a hypocrite?
Having trumped his adversary, Bryant laughs at this stuff now. Everyone knows Kobe is the king of the court in Los Angeles, a title Shaq wants back in the worst way but will never have again. He also knows Shaq is just trying to force himself back into the conversation. It's happened before.
Recently, O'Neal hinted that he might try his hand in mixed martial arts, calling out Hong-Man Choi, a 7-foot-2 Korean behemoth who just knocked out Jose Canseco.
O'Neal takes nothing seriously. It's his blessing and his curse. It's why he can entertain millions of fans with his comedy, dancing and critical observations. It's why he can miss more than 5,100 free throws in his career and never win a rebounding title. It's part of the reason why Steve Nash met with general manager Steve Kerr in New York on Thursday, as the point guard wants some roster assurances before moving forward with a contract extension.
The problem isn't a personality clash. It's that Nash and O'Neal can't co-exist on the court. You could not piece together a worse combination to defend the pick-and-roll, one of the most elementary plays in the NBA. It's one of the glaring flaws in this basketball team, and for that and other reasons, O'Neal must be traded in the coming months. When it happens, you wonder what he'll type next.
"Thx to all my peeps in PHX. But the owner is cheepcheepcheep. Amare my man get out while you can."
Or, if he's in a good mood:
"First one to spot me at P.F. Chang's and u get LeBron's autograph."
In Cleveland, many are buying into the Shaq mythology. They should. He intimidates Dwight Howard, who is still a child between the ears. He will give them an interior presence the Cavaliers sorely need and the classic bully to guard LeBron's interests. It will give O'Neal the platform to do two things he loves most: Beat down the Magic and the Master of Panic (his first employer and former coach Stan Van Gundy), and take the title away from Kobe.
The Suns have significant leverage. O'Neal is relevant again, in shape and in the news. He made the All-NBA third team in 2008-09. There is pressure on the Cavaliers to do something big and bold, and many of their fans are now expecting O'Neal's presence next season.
In other words, Kerr better not screw this up. He better get a little more in return for O'Neal than he received in return for Shawn Marion. If Ben Wallace wants to play and is part of the trade, fine. I'm guessing the crack medical staff in Phoenix can work wonders with the broken down defensive marvel. But they better get a young piece in return, too, and not settle for a pure salary dump.
Trading Shaq can and should work for everybody. In Phoenix, there will be some addition by subtraction. And in the tough-luck town of Cleveland, fans are already atwitter with new hope.
Just wait until the big guy wants his touches.