Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Is It Too Late to Teach Shaq the Sky Hook?

The overall reaction to the pending trade which would send Shaquille O'Neal to the Phoenix Suns has been one of bewilderment. The 35 year-old O'Neal would not seem to fit in with the running, quick-strike approach of the Suns offense. However, history has shown that such a combination can still lead to championships. Here are how Shaquille O'Neal's numbers this season (all career lows) compare to another former dominant center as he was approaching the end of his career on an up-tempo team:

Shaquille O'Neal, (age 35):
28.6 mins, 14.2 pts, 7.8 rebounds, 58.1% FG, 1.66 blocks

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (1987-88, age 40)
28.9 mins, 14.6 pts, 6.0 rebounds, 53.2% FG, 1.15 blocks

The Lakers won their third championship in four years that season.

During the end of the Jabbar era, the Lakers would always look to run the fast break first, and only when an opportunity didn't materialize would Jabbar make his way down the court for the offensive set. Now maybe Steve Nash isn't Magic Johnson, but I could see the Suns functioning in the same way, with Diaw, Bell, and Stoudemire running on the break ahead of Nash- and Shaq jogging out to midcourt to see what develops.

Now just give Barbosa some really high socks and Sean Marks some taped up, black-rimmed glasses and the title is theirs.

Besides, there are plenty of reasons to think that Shaq will be able to turn up his game for one more run once he actually takes the court.

-He doesn't usually start playing hard until March, anyway.

-This will give Shaq one more opportunity to screw over the Lakers.

-Phoenix is one of the porn capitals of the United States, and nothing energizes Shaq like shutting down pornographers (or bashing down the doors of innocent citizens..same difference.)

-He'll be 2,300 miles away from his estranged wife, with whom he's going through divorce proceedings. If that doesn't make you feel like a new man, nothing will.

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