“Shaquille O’Neal.” Those words used to instill fear in the minds of opponents as well as coaches. Today, when you hear that name, the first thought is not of powerful dunks or scoring titles or dominance on the boards, but rather stunts in Harvard Square and gimmicky prose via twitter. When asked in his pre-game press conference what Shaq brings to the Celtics, Lakers coach Phil Jackson deadpanned, “Humor.”
And Phil was right. Shaq’s box score read much like a punchline: 0 points, 5 fouls, 13 minutes. Oh, how the Big Leprechaun has fallen.
For eight seasons, Shaq donned the purple and gold of the Los Angeles Lakers. He won three titles and three NBA finals MVP awards. He was the fan favorite, a larger than life personality. Right out of central casting for Tinseltown. But that was before stops in Miami, Phoenix, Cleveland and now Boston. The boisterous chants of “MVP” that used to ring through the rafters at Staples were replaced with calls of “Traitor” and “Retire, already.” “Hack-a-Shaq” has become “Shaq The Hack.”
In a career that has taken him from the New York Knicks to the Chicago Bulls to the Los Angeles Lakers, Phil Jackson has had one consistent nemesis -- the Boston Celtics. He was asked if he owned anything green. After pausing for a moment, he said he used to have a green Mercedes. It was “Diesel.”
And that’s the last time you’ll hear the words “Shaq” and “Diesel” in the same press conference.
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