By Anthony McClean, Editor In Chief Emeritus NEW HAVEN (BASN) —...
Box And One With Shaquille O’Neal
SEATTLE — On February 7, 2008, Shaquille O’Neal was introduced to the media as the newest member of the Phoenix Suns. “It feels great being welcomed into this organization and I’m fortunate to be part of a good, team during the end of my career”, said O’Neal.
“We can do some great things right now and it’s exciting to be a part of it.”
“I came here because of the young fella, Amare Stoudemire, I’ve basically know him all of his life and it’s my goal to get him to the next level. As you can see he got player of the week, finally.”
“I told him to take it as an insult how the media continues to talk about the Boston Celtics, Kevin Garnett or the Orlando Magic’s, Dwight Howard.”
“Amare has been playing phenomenal basketball for a long time but still doesn’t get the ink that he deserves. As we speak, Amare has the same motivation and goals as I do and we want have rings on our fingers at the end of this season.”
Shaq learned during his second year in the league that he couldn’t do it all by himself and that he had to utilize his teammates to be successful. This being his 15th year in the league his wisdom continues to grow.
“I learned a great deal from Coach Phil Jackson while with the Lakers”, Shaq added. “He was a great motivator and had the ability to have players playing out of own defined capabilities.”
“Many of the teams that I was on that won three consecutive championships weren’t full of talent but we coached into greatness. I’ve added many lessons from Phil Jackson into my catalog but the most important one is that a little bit of encouragement to a teammate that may be struggling or feeling down on his performance goes along way.”
The Suns are currently in third place in the Western Conference Division and are in the midst of a tough road schedule. “I really doesn’t matter to me about the position or current standings, I just want to make sure that we get in to postseason play”, O’Neal said.
“We are just trying to win as many games as possible, home court advantage doesn’t mean anything on this level. The team that is playing the most consistent ball will be holding up the trophy at the end of the season.”
The chemistry is great and the sun is shining bright in Phoenix. After so many years of almost getting to the finals, Shaq just might be the missing piece. Shaq adds, “If we stay focused, minimize the turnovers and execute our offense which Steve Nash runs to perfection then you better look out!”
Shaq has been selected as one of the 50 greatest players in the NBA of all time. He has won four NBA Championships, MVP awards and countless other accolades but still plays with the same intensity of his youth every time he gets on the court.
I asked Shaq if he was working on any music projects and he politely said no but got a big grin on his face as we went back down memory lane. He had some stuff out with the FuSnickens that was pretty cool but the collaboration that he did with the Wu Tang Clan entitled, “No Hooks” is still hot!
Shaq is still learning the system and making the necessary adjustments for the Suns to be successful. He is the ultimate teammate and much smarter than many people give him credit for. “Talent will only get you so far in this league”, O’Neal added.
“There are many people that have come and gone during my stay in the NBA because they didn’t have anything to back up that talent.”