Shaq Brings the House Down on Day One


This surely wasn’t your father’s press conference.

From the second that the seven-footer walked in to the gym, you could tell that this was not going to be your typical introduction.  Not only was it standing room only, there was just an aura that there were going to be some pretty good takeaways regardless of context.  And it is pretty safe to say that no one left Cleveland Clinic Courts let down.

Seated exactly two rows behind Shauie O’Neal, I awaited the arrival of her husband – and one of the newest members of the Cleveland Cavaliers – Shaquille.  St. Martin de Porres Family Center was kind enough to send their summer camp kids to the press conference, and his entrance was one of immediate fan fair as he high-fived every one of the children down a line, making his way to the stage.

The Plain Dealer has a great shot of the entrance here.  And this was only the tip of the image (and soundbite) iceberg. 

Tracy Boulian / The Plain Dealer

Tracy Boulian / The Plain Dealer

The image directly above is one that essentially set the tone for the entire press conference.  After team owner Dan Gilbert presented O’Neal with his own snow boots (with the toes properly cut out for his size-22 feet) and snow shovel, the veteran center wasted no time tossing a few back at his new bosses.  Cleveland’s new No. 33 said that when Danny Ferry had called him, he had to think… “Who’s Danny Ferry?”  And then once he found a picture – with Ferry (then a member of the Spurs) and O’Neal himself in a very precarious position – he remembered exactly who Danny was.  Frankly, the picture isn’t used enough even though we have featured it on WFNY before.

One thing that never slipped O’Neal’s mind is what the year 2009 means to him.  The line that will resonate most with the city of Cleveland was what the big man deemed as his motto: “Win a ring for the King.”  Following the press conference, Dan Gilbert took that line one step further by saying “Win a ring with the King.”  Regardless, O’Neal appears to have one goal in mind and it is to win his fifth championship in the NBA. 

As things come in threes, O’Neal said that he has already won rings with Kobe Bryant and Dwyane Wade.  In his mind, there’s only one more player that needs one, and that is our very own LeBron James – a player who Shaq quoted as being right with San Antonio’s Tim Duncan in terms of basketball intelligence.

In fact, much of the press conference tended to revolve around James.  From O’Neal claiming that this team is still 100 percent that of LeBron’s, to how “special” Shaq knew James was when watching him play high school basketball.  In response to a question regarding having two “superstar” egos in the locker room, O’Neal quickly shot down the notion of any friction saying that he is here to help a team that was “already damn good without him” take the next step. 

“I don’t really consider myself a superstar.  Everyone knows this is LeBron’s team. I’m not trying to come in and change that.

I’m now in the security business. My job is to protect the King, and that’s what I’m here to do.”

shaq-cleveland-cardO’Neal undoubtedly feels that his impact on the defensive side of the ball will be big.  When fielding questions regarding the series against the Orlando Magic, not only did he hint towards a bit of luck – especially from players like “Petrie” and Rafer Alston “hitting shots off of the glass,” – but he also said that he’s still one of the top centers in the league and will be able to defend the post when needed.  While patting Mike Brown on the shoulder, O’Neal mentioned more than one time that the Cavaliers will not be double-teaming anyone.  Ever. 

There were multiple questions regarding Twitter, as Shaq is one of the social media’s most popular users.  O’Neal claimed that it is his way to show fans that he in fact is real, and can be silly and serious just like any one else.  He has been no stranger to posting pictures of himself in wigs – “Cleveland’s hottest cheerleader” – as well as the the frequent game where he gives fans tickets if they find him in a visiting city. 

Some moments of comedy gold came when O’Neal was asked where he will be living.  His response to the reporter: “Your house.”

When asked about his possible participation with the local law enforcement, O’Neal said he could not answer that due to “being undercover.”

On the ever-popular quest to determine the big man’s nickname, the only name that was offered up at this time was “The Big Freeze.”  While sounding a bit unsure of how that would stick, O’Neal said he would take some time with his kids to come up with something for the 2009 season.

Given the way that Dan Gilbert, Danny Ferry, Mike Brown and Shaquille O’Neal interacted on the stage, there is no doubt that the chemistry of this team will not be an issue.  While there will likely be talks of a possible extension for the big man as the team looks to build beyond 2009, there is no doubt that this year is the focus.  O’Neal’s uncle, who was quoted on multiple occasions, had once told his nephew to “focus on today.”  And that is definitely what the big man plans to do as he takes the court with the Wine and Gold for this upcoming season.

Many thanks to the Cavaliers for letting me be a part of today’s press conference.  The images of the jersey presentation and card from the media are property of WFNY.  Image of Danny Ferry and Shaquille O’Neal is courtesy of the Plain Dealer.

  • Boomhauer

    Have the Browns or Indians ever allowed WFNY at their press conferences?

  • Scott

    The Browns are very, very strict with their media credentials. As of now, they do not allow “electronic” media in to their press conferences or team practices.

    The Indians are a little less strict. DP actually had credentials set up with Travis Hafner in Columbus, but the team pulled it not long before it was to go down. We haven’t really made an attempt to attend anything else.

  • Boomhauer

    Says a lot about the 3 organizations…

  • TD

    Great stuff Scott…. Shaq put on a clinic today….

  • TampaBrett

    That’s awesome. Good job WFNY.

  • ben

    That’s why 1 is a top 5 franchise and the other’s arent

  • Amar Panchmatia

    Very well done, Scott! I’m jealous. I would have loved to be at that press conference. Now all we need is another one in the next week or two to introduce Ron Artest and we can start making parade arrangements next June.

  • TampaBrett no…don’t say that….Championship first, then parade…

  • The Other Tim

    “Hey camp kids, isn’t this a funny picture?”

  • Scotty

    @9 hahahahaha

  • swig

    And people were worried about shaq’s personality why? He did the exact same thing when partnered with Wade.

    He brings a ton of excitement, I kind of wish we could skip football season and get right back to basketball.

  • tag

    only one nickname is possible – “Witness Protection”.

  • Denny

    I wonder if the Cavs are going to learn from the Suns’ embracing of social media, especially with Shaq in town. Just about every presser is going to have a Twitter mention. They might as well use it to their advantage.

    Here’s hoping I find Shaq first when he’s in DC!

  • dgriff13

    though I am still hoping we fill the other need (artest?), I not cannot WAIT for basketball season. Browns, Indians… who?

  • dgriff13

    um, heh… excuse the typo. I CANNOT WAIT FOR BASKETBALL SEASON. See, so stoked I can’t even type.

    Either that, or I am so disgusted with the other 2 teams, I cannot wait to get past their seasons.

  • jto

    Sir Shaqalot and King James

  • Battles

    Good job WFNY!

    (Please, please, please let this work the way it should. PLEEEEEEEEEASE!!!)

  • feel kollins

    yes. sir shaqalot. i like that.

  • Glaumdawg

    Gotta admit, I was a tad skeptical about adding Shaq. Sure, the team was improved by adding him, but he’s 37 and it just felt like a reacitonary move….but after reading this I’ve gotten sucked into the hype. I am so freaking hyped about the start of basketball season now……not to mention if the Cavs can land Artest too……

  • jto

    Lakers are signing Artest… oh well, another one bites the dust.

  • scott

    How do they always manage to upgrade? Artest reportedly said he would play there for free.

  • TampaBrett

    That sucks..Lakers are going to be sick…

  • Lebron3eb

    It makes me sick…wanting to play for the lakers for free??? why doesn’t he pay them instead???

  • Glaumdawg

    Well, the Lakers will have to let Odom and/or Ariza go? I suppose we might see Ariza in a Cavs uni now? How will this all play out!?!?

  • scott

    Ariza to Houston to take Artests spot most likely.

  • Ben

    Bye Lebron. We’ll be stuck with Ariza for five years now, while we watch Another team that sacrificed everything for cap space try to build around Lebron. What can we get for O’Neal and Z’s expiring contracts next year, hmmm? Maybe a couple second round picks. And we’re back to the days when Vitaly Potapenko was our star.

  • Pat in CA

    If only the Browns had someone with a personality like Shaq. Makes losing a little more bearable.

    Does anyone with the Browns have a personality?

  • AMC

    @ ben – I don’t think we’ll be “stuck” with Ariza because he’s not coming to Cleveland for just our MLE.

    With Boston now targeting Sheed heavily, I think it’s looking like the only way the Cavs are going to be to add a significant piece is through a sign-and-trade. Maybe we could deal Z (maybe to Utah for Boozer?) to a team who would then pull a McDyess?

  • eshaw

    I brought this up at another site (PD) but has anyone considered a sign and trade of Andy with Boobie for a David West or C Boozer, I know that NO is desperate for cap relief and they have to realize they are not going to beat LA Denver SA or Portland (with Turk). And Utah doesn’t want to let Boozer go for anything… just a thought. And that way they could still use the MLE to possibly try to lure Ariza here althought I think he’ll end up in Houston or Toronto. SOme other names that are somewhat off the radar could be Brandon Bass from Dallas (who can hit an open J) Channing Frye from Portland (dame but a lot less physical but a longer frame) and there is still the ageless one Mcdyess… Ferry HAS to be working on somethin or else we will watch evrry contender improve dramatically ehile we don’t take an opprotunity to add one (maybe two) more players of good value.

  • eshaw

    sorry should have proof read a little better

  • DJ

    How is it the ONLY way someone comes to CLE is via trade or draft? No one comes here willingly, even to play with LBJ/Shaq, with the best facilities in the NBA. We’re everyone’s last resort.

    O, and how does LA lose Ariza, yet get Artest and still stay under the cap w/ all those guys?

    I just don’t get it…

  • eshaw

    Well looks like some sign and trade is brewing for the 56 yr old Anthony Parker! Cavs are getting older and that is not a good sign to send to Lebron. I guess that may still leave them with the MLE. Guessing Gibson would be who we trade. Watch him turn out to be like Kapono and shoot 45% from three the next 6 yrs and Parker retires after 2 seasons

  • bobby

    Any chance Rasheed comes to CLE? He does fit a need, and could be focused. He’s not my top option out of the gate, but now he’s looking decent.

  • eshaw

    Celts offered him a 2 yr deal for the MLE. I wouldn’t want to go more than that but who knows. Ferry will prolly pull out all the stops and lure J Kidd away from Dallas and NY and give him a 5 year deal or something crazy

  • TampaBrett

    Interesting year coming up.

  • Kevin


    Because free agency is based entirely on Money. Artest says now that he would play for free, but that is only actually the Lakers signed on to pay him more than we could offer.

    The Cavs don’t have a lot of cash to throw around this year. So they aren’t going to get the top guys.

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  • lakeshow

    When it is all said and done the Magic get Vinsanity, Lakers get Artest, SA gets Jefferson, Cavs get ONeal and Boston gets Wallace. No other team acquistion really matters when it comes to championship contention next year.

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