Friday, August 20, 2010

A theory about Shaq and the Celtics

Why would Shaq come back for a measly $1.3 million?

The man has made nearly $300 million just in salaries, not counting endorsements, production deals, movie roles, his reality show that he stole from Steve Nash, his music albums and the money that LSU paid him. He certainly didn't need the money. ...

You might remember the press conference after Game 7 of the 2010 Finals -- or, as it's known in my house, "The Night That Led To Dad Not Speaking To Anyone For Five Days" -- when Kobe couldn't conceal his delight when someone asked what the title meant to him personally, saying "I got one more than Shaq! You can take that to the bank."

Everyone laughed. Then Kobe added cryptically, "You guys know how I am. … I don't forget anything."

He's not kidding. A few minutes before, when everyone was celebrating in the Lakers locker room, Kobe let everyone know how much he enjoyed passing Shaq in the ring department. He did it loudly. Boisterously. Euphorically. With a few expletives. I've heard this story a few different ways, but in each version, Kobe sounded a little like Tupac lighting everyone up at the end of "Hit 'Em Up." But "everyone" was Shaq. ...

Here's what Kobe forgot, or even better, here's what Kobe knew: Shaq played for Los Angeles for eight seasons. He worked with people who still work for the Lakers now. The odds of Kobe's "Hit 'Em Up" routine getting back to Shaq, in some form, was between 100 percent and 100 percent. ...

O'Neal signed with Boston because "when I close my book at the end of the day, it's all about winning and nothing else." This was someone who told a teammate before the final game of his 2009 Suns season -- when they had just been eliminated from playoff contention -- that he "needed to start getting in shape for my reality show." Game 82 and you need to get in shape? Huh? Now you suddenly care about winning titles again? Now you're fine with swallowing your dignity to be a spare part, a minimum guy, an afterthought, someone with no security at all? Just to chase a ring? When you already have four?

My theory: I think Kobe's postgame routine got back to Shaq. I think it pissed him off. I think it got his competitive juices flowing for the first time in years. I think he realized Boston was his best chance to tie Kobe at five. I think he wants this more than anything. I think he shows up next month in surprisingly good shape, and I think we'll be saying in November, "Wow, that Shaq signing may have been a great move by Boston!" And I think this will happen for only one reason: because Shaq hates Kobe and Kobe hates Shaq. Just a theory.
--Bill Simmons,, on yet another reason why this upcoming NBA season will be the most compelling one in years

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