12.04.2012

Grampa Celtic Talks Shaq




11/23/02

Shaq is always sensitive about slights to his dignity and he did not take kindly to Bill Walton's public assertion that Shaq was not exactly a paragon of conditioning.

As I recall, Shaq said he was tipping 'em at around 340 or so, which he says is about right. The truth is no one other than Shaq knows what he really weighs. Some swear the first numeral for his weight should be a 4. I suspect Vlade Divac would endorse that theory.

The issue, of course, isn't Shaq's exact weight. The issue is his exact level of conditioning, and there is every reason to believe Shaq has never come close to maxing out in this regard.

If true, this is an even greater tribute to Shaq's inherent athleticism, because despite whatever limitations he has placed on himself he still has his playoff MVPs and his rings. He is the greatest force in the known basketball world. Period.

I'm sure Shaq is thinking that he is quite good enough as he is, so what benefit would he gain by taking the time and putting in the effort to be the very best he could be?

Would it be naive to suggest Shaq should have sufficient pride to find out what would happen if he truly gave it his all for an entire season? Start with this. Do you know how many rebounding titles Shaq has won during his first 10 years in the league?

NONE!

That is shameful.

Shaq is 7 feet-whatever. Shaq weighs 3-whatever, or even 4-whatever. Shaq is extraordinarily athletic. Shaq is reasonably quick off his feet. Starting in, say, Year 3, Shaq should have begun leading the league in rebounding every season, no exceptions. The No. 1 rule of rebounding is "Do you want the damn ball or don't you?" and if Shaq decided he wanted the ball - I mean really, really, really wanted the ball - who would be able to deny him that request? His one-game high is 28. The most he's ever had in a playoff game, when there are even more missed shots as a rule, is 24.

I repeat, shameful.

This is all about effort and all about priorities. An in-shape, totally committed Shaq would absolutely, positively lead the league in rebounding, and that would make life easier for the Lakers.

Shaq has had it too easy because he exists in a historical vacuum. The era of the great centers is past, and he is its last link. As great as Shaq is, he looks even better because he has no viable competition. David Robinson never was a center. Arvydas Sabonis was physically shot before he ever got here. Alonzo Mourning, even at his peak, was too small. In the first post-merger season (1977-78), Shaq would have had to deal with the likes of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Bill Walton, Bob Lanier, Artis Gilmore, Dave Cowens, Elvin Hayes, Wes Unseld, and Moses Malone, all of whom are far better than whoever we would declare to be the next-best center now, at least until Robinson retires and Tim Duncan slides over. Thirty years ago Shaq would have been confronted with Wilt Chamberlain, Willis Reed, Nate Thurmond, and Walt Bellamy, in addition to Kareem, Lanier, Cowens, Hayes, and Unseld.

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