Shaq to Boston – Second Verse Same as the First

This time last year, we were all excited to have Shaquille O’Neal as a part of the Cavaliers.  Well, maybe not all of us down to a person, but most of us.  The Cavs didn’t give up much, and it seemed like the best available deal while not giving up anything at all.  Obviously it didn’t pan out in the end and now it seems like Shaq might have helped implode the Cavaliers season with his infamous gas can that he totes from place to place.  Shaq has gained a bit of a reputation for being a bit of a cancer and blowing up every place he goes at some point or another.

In the early days of Shaq’s career, it was fine because his talent and dominance on the court overshadowed the negatives.  Remember last year when Shaq came in and said all the right things?  “I want to win a ring for the king.”  He seemed to finally be accepting his role as a role player.  In the end, I wouldn’t say it really worked like that.

I won’t blame Shaq for the collapse of the Cavaliers, but let’s look at this.  Shaq’s involvement with the team eventually caused Mike Brown to endure his worst criticism as Cavs coach because Shaq’s playing time came at the expense of J.J. Hickson.  Shaq is an outspoken veteran, do you think he might have talked his way into the playing time, or did he sit there like a good role player waiting to see if coach called his number?  This week, Scott mentioned the whispers about a possible physical confrontation in the locker room between Shaq and LeBron.

Prior to this season and Shaq’s arrival in Cleveland, Bill Simmons had said that the Cavaliers were about the tightest knit team in the NBA with their handshakes and pre-game rituals.  Simmons’ claim is that “something happened” to the Cavaliers team.  Obviously Bill Simmons hasn’t drawn the conclusion that Shaq had anything to do with it because after the Celtics signed Shaq, he said he could talk himself into it by mid-August.

Yes, the Celtics are a different team than the Cavaliers.  They have three veterans in KG, Ray Allen, and Paul Pierce where the Cavaliers only had a domineering 25 year-old man-child who owned the locker room.  The Cavaliers had a coach who has never played the game before while the Celtics have Doc Rivers, who probably has more ability to talk to players and reach them.  Shaq might not be capable of pulling the same act in Boston that he seemingly did in Cleveland.  Certainly everyone’s worst fears about Rasheed Wallace kind of came true, but he wasn’t able to derail the Celtics as they made a championship run.  Then again, Rasheed and Shaq are completely different animals so  who can say?

Meanwhile, on Twitter and in the blogs, I am reading Boston fans working on Shaq’s new nickname.  Some have said they want to call him “The Big Shamrock.”  A year prior, we were trying to figure out if we should call him “Witness Protection.”  It just seems eerily similar, and yet Boston is another team, after Cleveland and after Phoenix, who will stare history in the face and hope it will be different.  Maybe it will.  Shaq has another year under his belt and Boston is a completely different team at a completely different stage of their lifecycle.  Then again, would you bet on Shaq working out after seeing him the last year in Cleveland?

  • DK

    i respectfully disagree with this. I would rather have shaq and his rings over JJ, who didnt show he could shoot a jumper outside 5 feet…not that shaq could either, but at least shaq brought the experience factor…who knows what the confrontation was about, but as things have surfaced about lbj being a baby and quitting, i would like to think shaq was trying to light a fire, but saw that lbj had checked out for south beach and didnt care…

    maybe shaq was mad that lbj had talked the talk, but didnt walk the walk…maybe lbj told shaq to come to cleveland and shaq was ticked that lbj gave up and didnt care…

    who knows…but i know that there should have been a better rotation with jj and shaq in the playoffs…i would have liked to have seen them dictate the lineup by putting shaq in against the backups and let him get going that way…i understand hes old and slow, but i think hes got enough in the tank to wear down a backup center pretty easily, which is what it looks like he will be doing in Boston…like we should have used him here…

    its neither here nor there, but i would rather have a shaq who wants to win no matter who he plays with, than a guy who says he wants to play and win, then quits and takes his ball home because he wants to go play with his friends…

  • ben

    What happened was LeBron decided to leave Cleveland long before we got to the playoffs.

  • AMC

    Shaq contributed to the Cavs downfall last year, but it was Shaq’s injury that did it rather than anything he was doing on or off the court. Shaq played very well when Mo and Delonte were out, picking up much of the scoring slack. Then Shaq’s injury came at a terrible time in the season when the Cavs didn’t have time to work him back into the lineup before the start of the playoffs. The small style of play that the Cavs employed during Shaq’s absence wasn’t going to work against Orlando. Now I agree that Mike Brown shouldn’t have stuck with Shaq against Boston as long as he did, but I don’t think he would have been as worried about getting Shaq minutes if Shaq hadn’t been injured leading up to the postseason.

    Oh yeah, and LeBron checked out.

  • Jason


    weren’t the Cavs something like 21-4 without Shaq? And no, I’m not included the last few games when ALL the starters rested…

    Shaq was not the problem, nor was he the solution. The Cavs froze up twice against teams that were more hungry for a win. And yes, the fact that certain players didn’t show up certainly made matters worse.

    Shaq will help Boston, at least until Perkins comes back

  • SxDx

    I thought the Cavs played their best basketball of the season when Shaq was injured, and JJ Hickson was in the starting lineup. The Cavs were at their best when they played small and fast, running up and down the court getting good looks and easy baskets. They looked like a championship team when they played this way. When they slowed the game to a crawl and tried to force it into Shaq, or when LeBron would dribble around for 15 seconds and jack up 3’s from 28 feet, we were quite mediocre.

  • mgbode

    I love Shaq. Have since he came into the league. But, he has no place on next year’s team. Old elite players on bad teams generally expect the scoring to go through them as they just pad stats before retiring. That doesn’t help the team develop for the future.

    Kudos to Shaq for not doing that and chasing that last ring.

  • mgbode

    oh, and Big Leprachaun illicits a funnier image than Big Shamrock.

    especially when he’ll be playing a bunch with Glen Davis (hey, it’s Shrek and the Big Leprachaun)

  • JNeids

    While Shaq’s presence in the lineup may have been ONE of the factors of the downfall vs Boston, I don’t fault him completely for the failure that was last season. While our record without him in the lineup may have been stellar, we still got him for one main reason, and thanks to poor coaching/lineups and a certain someone metnally checking out early, we never got to see if he would have gotten us past Howard and the Magic.

    And you know what – if given the chance to go back and try it again, I would. And that is coming from a person who wasn’t completely sold on the move when we made it a year ago. Knowing what I know about Shaq from last season (but having to obviously forget what I know about someone else), I would make the trade again in a heartbeat. The injury was a fluke and came at the worst possible time, but I still think we could have won it all if everyone was healthy and giving it their all.

  • JNeids

    One last thing – I had actually forgotten about the nickname “Witness Protection.” Ironic, considering that we are all now hoping that he does the exact opposite and spills some truthisms about the one he was originally brought in to protect.

  • Chris

    I am left to wonder, if there was a physical confrontation… was it over Shaq’s playing time, or was it over LeBron quitting?

  • Ike

    I think people are a little harsh on Shaq’s time in Cleveland. When he was playing well, the Cavs were dominating.

    And, besides Lebrond deciding to quit against Boston, I think the worst thing that happened to the Cavs this season was Shaq breaking his thumb, and thus playing only 4 games with Antawn Jamison before the playoffs.

    So when you say Shaq “didn’t work out” in Cleveland, there’s a lot more to it than just saying that.

  • Craig Lyndall

    I didn’t say he was 100% of the problem, and I certainly am not using Shaq to get LeBron off the hook. My point is that Shaq hasn’t been good on the court and reportedly toxic off of it in the last two stops. Boston rolled the dice with Sheed last year and it didn’t kill them. I don’t know that they really should go to that well multiple times though.

    Shaq has been a cancer in his last three stops. That alone doesn’t tell the story of the Cavaliers’ downfall, but I don’t understand why Boston would bother.

  • Shamrock

    Watch how a real coach like Doc Rivers uses and utilizes O’Neal. I guarantee you’ll see players cutting off of him as well as little to none if that dump the ball into Shaq and stand around while he bangs, bangs and bangs his way closer tonthe basket.

  • joe

    “Prior to this season and Shaq’s arrival in Cleveland, Bill Simmons ….. because after the Celtics signed Shaq, he said he could talk himself into it by mid-August.”
    Do you even read Bill Simmons? Simmons said ‘something happened’ between games 3 and 4 of the Boston series, and he was alluding to the Delonte West rumor having merit, nothing Shaq related. You either chose to misrepresent his words or are an idiot who should not have a blog here. You go onto say Simmons won’t blame Shaq because he’s now with Boston. Did you see Simmon’s tweets when they signed him? It went something like NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!! Nooooooo! NOOOOOO!!! Until reading your column it had never occurred to me that any ignorant idiot was allowed to post on wfny.

  • saggy

    @joe: I am having trouble understanding what you mean by “you go onto.” What does that mean?

    And, I am pretty sure that you’ll go on to read other blogs pretty soon.

  • jimkanicki

    enh on simmons. the guy usually knows his stuff. but he doesn’t know what he’s talking about on the cavs. he places WAY too much blame on danny ferry. he goes on and about the moves that should have been made and bad free agent signings.*

    1. cavs should have moved wally for shaq at deadline last year.
    i think it was looked at hard and my guess is that phx just wanted too much. not for nothing but cavs had the best record in nba at the time so wasnt it fair to think the lineup was solid?

    2. larry hughes, donyell marshall.
    i remember cavs trying hard to sign ANY f.a. at that time. here’s what he had to look at:
    after michael redd said screw… what should he have done? lawrence funderburke?

    3. last year’s whiff.
    does anyone think ariza and villanueva pass on signing with cavs if lebron is committed?

    4. the wallace trade sucked.
    huh? did joe smith suck? did delonte west suck? was wallace more physical in the paint than AV and Z? sheesh. and we dumped hughes’ contract too. like.. stfu.

    unfortunately he’s so widely followed that his urban myth that it’s cavs’ management’s fault that lebron left because they bungled the roster becomes reality nationally. the only legit gripe on ferry was is dedication to romeo crennel with glasses.

    history is written by the victors. sucks to watch it being written in real time.

    *(in so doing, he excuses lebron’s bailout. and that’s convenient because there seems to have been a memo inside espn saying dont criticize lebron.)

  • JM

    Yeah I would have rather had JJ and his 5 points a game in there too. LeFraud quit plain and simple. Sure line ups were a little off and Shaq never got back to form but he quit. So we can stop making excuses for what happened to that team.

  • Shamrock

    @17 Looks like you made a few excuses right there. As far as Hickson goes a majority of people got bent when the Cavaliers were supposedly looking to trade him. You still have him and the excuses fir him should finally cone to an end this season. Let’s see just how much of a player he is now that he’ll actually have to play. Much can be said of the entire roster which will have to come to play every night just to be competitive. Personally I don’t see much room for optimism given the mish mosh roster but you never know.

  • Denny

    hey joe – clearly you never read anything that I wrote, because I take the ignorant idiot cake.

    it’s light, fluffly, and delish.

  • JNeids

    Shamrock doesn’t see much room for optimism?????????

    Here’s my shocked face :-O