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Yeah, about that… “Perhaps Shaq’s “win a ring for the King” plan served to damage his own narrative by reaffirming the importance of the perimeter players he has teamed with. The phrase on its face seems like traditional Shaq bravado — “LeBron hasn’t been able to do it for himself, so I’ll handle it” — but it’s really a bit of self-deprecation. O’Neal admitted defeat in Phoenix and attached himself to the league’s best player. He effectively told the world he needed to be a role player, even if that admission came wrapped in his own self-trumpeting.
The fact is that Shaq is simply not a king-maker any longer. In fact, it could be argued he’s a drain: the Suns, after all, are in the Western Conference Finals after essentially trading O’Neal for nothing last summer, and the Cavs have regressed with Shaq in tow. That speaks to an unsure future for the big fella, who has claimed he wants to play a couple more years before hulking off into the sunset. Shaq is a free agent come July 1.” [Tom Ziller/NBA FanHouse]
Trade deadline hindsight? “It appears the Cavaliers didchoose Jamison over Stoudemire, and did so because Jamison “fit” better and they could still keep Hickson. Now that we’ve seen the way this has played out, it’s clear Jamison isn’t fitting in, keeping Hickson was pointless because he never plays and Stoudemire is way, way better than anyone realized. In making their decision, Cleveland overrated Jamison considerably, both as a player and in terms of his ability to fit in. Cleveland figured that the difference between Jamison and Stoudemire wasn’t great enough to risk whatever possible chemistry issues might come. They were very wrong.” [Mike Prada/SBNation]
Obviously, staying put at home in Cleveland where he can get the most money and years on a contract compared to other suitors. He knows the organization, he knows the players that will be returning, he knows the city, and perhaps most importantly, he knows what must be done to win an NBA championship after two disappointing postseasons that carried NBA title expectations. Perhaps even now, he’ll have the Kobe Bryant level desire for a ring. Not simply just wanting one, but needing one.The sting of a loss is still fresh, but it’s very possible that after the nagging pain and dark clouds passing, the clarity of knowing the Cavs offer the best chance for LeBron to win that elusive championship will come before the King and he will accept it.” [Dennis Velasco/Fanway.com]
Whipsawed, son: “Antawn Jamison and Shaquille O’Neal is the perfect frontline — for an Orlando series. Shaq would have done a good job against Howard defensively, and Jamison would have been able to guard Lewis on the perimeter. The problem is that the Cavs didn’t get to play Orlando, and Boston absolutely murdered this frontline. The KG/Jamison matchup was a disaster, and in game six Antawn didn’t come close to making up for it on the offensive end. Shaq had his moments offensively, but Boston doesn’t run anything through Perkins, he got beat to rebound after rebound, and he got shredded defensively more than a few times on the pick-and-roll.
I don’t know what the attitude in the locker room was; all I know is that from a team-building point of view, this team looked past Boston.” [Cavs the Blog]
And finally, more human than human: “That fear has real vulnerability — as you can hear in the post-game snarkiness from the supposedly omnipotent James. But it doesn’t stem from egotism or entitlement; LeBron James is not a prima donna sulking because things didn’t go his way. In the same way that he delights at a ridiculous fast break or a teammate’s flush, LeBron James is feeling the game like anyone else would. He’s just a zillion times better at it. And yet the concerned LBJ is the somewhat comforting (not demeaning!) flipside of what LeBron really shows on the court.This isn’t a god, or a toy sent from beyond the stratosphere to amuse us. He’s great because of his humanity, and in one of the worst losses of his career, he registered a very human, very revealing emotion.
Kobe or Durant would have radiated anger or frustration. LeBron, unable to get out and play his game, got worried, even lost. Does that make him perfect? No. More human? Yes. And really, isn’t it about time we start injecting a little more of that into our view of The Next Great Basketball Savior?” [Shoals/NBAFanHouse]