No, not real murders, sillyhead. We’re talking about metaphysical, metaphorical murders of the basketball variety. Because if you’re wondering where all the “real” centers went, Shaq’s coming clean.
To wit, via Ken Berger at CBS:
“I think I killed off all the centers and now all the centers want to play the European-style basketball,” O’Neal said before watching the Celtics beat the Knicks 104-101 in Stoudemire’s Garden debut. “There’s only 1.5 or 2 real centers left, Dwight Howard and Yao Ming. Every now and then Yao Ming steps outside and wants to shoot jumpers, but it’s gone more toward the European style. The days of Patrick Ewing and Rik Smits and Kevin Duckworth and Robert Parish, those days are over, thanks to me.”
Being a “real” center is over, thanks to Shaq. Apparently there are only 1.5 or 2 of them left, depending on what fractions you use for Dwight Howard and Yao Ming. I’m not a math guy, so I can’t really say. Oh, and apparently we’re not counting guys like Andrew Bogut, Marc Gasol, or Andrew Bynum who all posted better stats than Shaq last year while playing primarily in the low post. Those guys aren’t “real” enough.
According to Shaq, all we’re left with is jump-shooting sissy European types. The Diesel says that ain’t gonna work.
Someone asked if a center can still be a difference-maker in today’s NBA, and Shaq said, “No. Not shooting jumpers.”
But in a playoff series?
“Yeah, guys like Dwight Howard and Yao Ming, guys that have youth behind them,” O’Neal said. “I’ve never lost a series to a guy shooting jumpers — besides Pau [Gasol], but Pau has a couple of extra weapons with him. There hasn’t been a center that has won shooting jumpers. Pau is 60-40 — 60 inside and 40 shooting jumpers. So I think the centers are getting a little more Pau Gasolish.”
Take that all you impostor centers. Shaq’s never lost a playoff series to a jump-shooter, except for Pau Gasol, who doesn’t really count even though he actually is European and shoots a lot of jump shots. (Also don’t count Rik Smits who beat Shaq in 1994 or the Pistons in 2004 and 2005 who played Rasheed Wallace big minutes at the center spot. Forget about those, please.) He’s undefeated in those situations, as long as you’re not actually counting every single one of them, which would be tedious anyway.
I mean, do you count losses to Luc Longley even if his baseline jumpers weren’t the reason the Bulls beat the Magic? Things get dicey pretty quick, so it’s just a lot easier to say Shaq’s never lost to a jump-shooting center (except when he has) and that he made the concept of a “real” big man obsolete (except that he didn’t).