Three months ago, they were battling in the Eastern Conference Semifinals. Now, Shaquille O'Neal and Kevin Garnett are teammates. (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)

“I started out as a young ninja and killed all of the shoguns. I am a shogun now and I’m holding my spot. There probably won’t be another shogun after this.” — Shaquille O’Neal, Oct. 2008

Once a shogun, now just a hired gun — with the news that Shaquille O’Neal has signed a two-year deal with the Boston Celtics (sponsored by Metamucil), it’s never been more clear Shaq’s legacy will not be associated with any one NBA team. It’s entirely possible that he might go down in history as the greatest NBA player to never have his jersey retired.

If any one team was going to retire Shaq’s jersey, it would have been the Los Angeles Lakers — he played his best years there and led them to three consecutive championships from 2000 to 2002. They might have gotten over their bitter divorce in 2004, but choosing to sign with the hated Celtics? Some transgressions can’t be forgiven.

It’s hard to say whether or not this signing makes the Celtics better-equipped to challenge Miami, Orlando and Chicago in the East. At 38 years old, Shaq is obviously a shell of his former self. His help defence (particularly on screen-and-rolls) is virtually non-existent now and he may not have the stamina to play more than 20 minutes per game. However, it’s a mistake to write him off as being completely washed up. He’s still tough to handle in single-coverage — he was one of just eight players last season to average at least 12 points per game while making at least 55 percent of their shots.

While we’ll probably never have this confirmed, I think it’s pretty safe to assume that Shaq made overtures to the Miami Heat before this — how quickly do you think Dwyane Wade and LeBron James said “No way” when Pat Riley bounced that idea off them? Since Kobe and the Lakers obviously weren’t going to take him back, the Celtics were his next best opportunity to try to win his fifth championship ring.

As for the Celtics’ reasons for taking a chance on The Big Shillelagh (you read it here first!), this gives them additional frontcourt depth (along with Kevin Garnett, Jermaine O’Neal and Glen Davis) as they wait for Kendrick Perkins to heal from knee surgery that will probably keep him off the court until February. More importantly, this creates the possibility for Celtics president Danny Ainge to stick it to a couple of old nemeses — Pat Riley and the Lakers — in a particularly satisfying fashion.

You think Ainge isn’t still stinging from his seven-game finals loss to the Lakers in June? You think he wouldn’t like to get some measure of revenge on Miami Heat president Pat Riley, who coached the Lakers to championship series victories over the Celtics when Ainge was a player in 1985 and 1987? Ainge is one of the most competitive players who ever stepped on an NBA court and he is willing to do whatever it takes to win. He was fined $25,000 by the league in May after a TV camera caught him throwing a towel in the air to distract J.J. Hickson at the free throw line during Game Two of their playoff series with the Cavaliers. In a 1988 meeting with Celtics president Red Auerbach, Ainge tried to convince Red to trade Larry Bird and Kevin McHale because he considered them too broken down to help the Celtics compete for a championship anymore. The only thing Ainge considers sacred is winning.

The weirdest thing about this news is that it actually seems a little anti-climactic compared to some of the other craziness of this past month. Who would have ever thought that Shaq signing with the Celtics wouldn’t even be the most unholy alliance of a particular off-season? I guess this proves that Shaq’s new teammate Kevin Garnett was right — anything is possible.

Comments (16)

  1. I personally like “The Big Shamrock” better.

  2. The Big Leprecaun :)

  3. I was going to say that “The Big Shamrock” would be a suitable name for Shaq now, but it looks like I was beaten to it. :(

  4. “The Big Blarney” has my vote.

  5. hes more like the “big has been” now he seriosulyy needs to retire, he isnt winning anything with the celtics not with mami, orlando, and the bulls getting so much better.

  6. His name is the Big Barney. He better suited at playing on the bench. The media will start in the middle of the season talking about if shaq wasn’t injury, this team is a contender. It has happen last year when the Cavs were the best team in the regular season. There is not anything that Shaq can bring to the court. He’s slow, old and only can do hard foul. Just retire already. I think Shaq and Farve have the same trainer.

  7. Shaq has a great track record of coming up with his own nicknames. I say we leave it to the expert and see what he comes up with.

  8. It means my Celts have become the Elephant Graveyard where old All Stars come to die. Seriously? We couldn’t get Pittman in the draft, or another more mobile/defense oriented big man?

  9. Agree you, Shaq.

  10. I love Celts.
    Welcome to Celts,Shaq.

  11. the big cancer? he’s gonna ruin perk’s career but oh well. thank God i saw this blog i was stuck at yahoo sports with trey trying hard to be funny and kd doing his hate thing. maybe he’s goth.

  12. How could this be a bad move?
    I mean: the guy is just here to be part of the rotation, not the star. You’d have a hard time finding a second-tier inside scorer who’s better at what he does than Shaq is, especially for that price…

    They didn’t get him to try and make him in another great defender who can run the floor… He’ll just be Shaq, scoring some buckets while being back to the basket, something that the Cs (save Sheed on some occasions) had a hard time doing last year.

    And I don’t see HOW he could have a negative impact on Perkins’ career, since he’s not gonna take the starting gig from him, and he’ll probably help him learn some back-to-the-basket moves that Perk sorely needs to get to another level on offense.

  13. yeah i got your point breyzh. you’re right. but how about big baby? he’s gonna be a 3rd option behind JO and KG. do u think he’s gonna be traded?

  14. actually, KG and Shaq both are my favourite player. but if KG went to Houston before past three years, wow, maybe Rocket could get the champion of NBA. support Yao.

  15. KG and Shaq are teammates. (*^__^*) interesting.

  16. keep going. I support u forever, Shaq.

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