Thursday, February 7, 2008

Will Shaq shine for the Suns?

No. Quite bluntly, no. If not for the alliterative and metaphorical possibilities of this title, it would have been something more like "Suns didn't get the memo: Shaq's done". Apparently they haven't been watching him play this year. Or they didn't check his bio available on countless websites: 7'1", 300 pounds, 35 years old. Or they haven't noticed his absence from all but four of the Heat's games over the past month.

Now, I don't want to just attack Shaq, because he was one of the best players ever in his prime. He dominated the paint like no other player did during his career. But, as with any big player, he has gone through a lot of games and a lot of contact. And his size only makes that kind of wear and tear harder to deal with, even one as powerful as Shaquille O'Neal. As a guy who was never able to make a shot outside of the paint, he needs that strength to be effective, and he simply doesn't have as much at this point.

Apparently the Suns didn't notice, care, or otherwise use his performance over the last two years as an evaluation for this trade. Both this year and last year, he has dealt with various injuries and become decreasingly effective. And this year, even when he has been healthy, he has been picking up fouls faster than Travis Knight once did,* so that he barely makes it past the twenty minute mark for a lot of games. So even when he is able to play, he is a part-time player.

Speaking to a friend who thought the trade was relatively even, I heard that Shaq is one of the most dominant players in the league and that he will most likely be healthy because his injuries are unrelated to each other. As in, they aren't recurring, so once he recovers from this one involving his hip, he'll be back to full health. I simply can't agree less. Along with getting old is an increased occurence of injuries and a longer time needed to recover from them. That's just how the human body works. It isn't just a coincidence that these last two years have been the most injury-plagued of Shaq's career; wouldn't it be foolish to argue that?

Although his offense is still definately good when he is at least partially healthy, he has been very slow on defense this year, another reason for all the fouls he has been picking up. This is why it doesn't make sense: didn't the Suns want a center to defend the other big guys in the west, such as Yao Ming, Tim Duncan, etc? Shaq isn't that guy; he doesn't have that kind of defensive superiority anymore.

I just don't understand what the Suns were going for. I realize that they didn't think they could win a championship anymore with a run-and-gun team, but that doesn't mean you trade a key player for someone who doesn't fit your system at all and isn't likely to be healthy. If Shaq does manage to stay healthy, and prove many (including me), wrong, maybe the Suns will have an equivalent talent to Shawn Marion.

Oh wait- didn't they used to have him?

*One of the funniest memories I have of watching basketball was Travis Knight, of the Knicks, fouling out in under six minutes while, ironically, using the hack-a-Shaq technique. He still holds the record for quickest time to foul out of a playoff game.

P.S. Did Pat Riley really compare Dwyane Wade and Shawn Marion to Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen?! Michael Jordan?! All of a sudden, the Suns doing this trade isn't the dumbest thing that happened in the NBA recently.


  1. I agree with what your sentiments on the deal, but I really hope Shaq succeeds because I like the big guy. He seems really determined to do so (based on his press conference), and I'd like to see him prove us all wrong and cement his legacy even more by leading Phoenix to the title.

  2. wow. thats intense. i never thought of it like that. you are now officially a 4.9 on my interest scale which is .1 less than before i read your blog. congrats rye rye, im so impressed.

    P.S. You look better with straight hair. give in to the rebel side--it's so you.

    Scarlett J


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