And last night was just like old times.
Shaq was brutally efficient last night in his 45 point performance in a win over the Toronto Raptors. He was uisng the same explosive dunks he used to back in LA, and even hit a few bank shots and drop hooks. It was, pretty much, vintage Shaq. Now when a superstar is hitting on all cylinders, he tends to get away with a few things. You may remember this from the early 00s in the form of mass destruction and a blatant disregard for rules that were meant for average sized people. It's not Shaq's fault, the best players always take advantage of certain rules, and when you're as big as the Shaqtus, it's hard to hold him to the same standards.
Chris Bosh, on the other hand, was not so much okay with letting the big dog eat off the kitchen table.
Bosh told reporters after the game that the Big Aristotle (okay, last nickname, I swear) might as well have brought smores.
"He was just camping down in the lane," Bosh said Friday night, after O'Neal's biggest scoring night in six years led Phoenix to a 133-113 victory over the Raptors. "I mean, if they're not calling three seconds - I thought it was a rule, but I guess not."And the Raptors head coach Jay Triano was a bit more diplomatic, but still as vexed by the big guy's physicality.
The answer to this quandry likely lies somewhere in between the two extremes. On the one hand, it's pretty obvious that Shaq uses his hand, shoulders knees and toes (knees and toes!) to shove defenders out of the way, and he probably does tend to set up shop in the painted area for longer than is allowed. The same rules should apply to him as they should Jake Voskuhl, conceptually. But we know that's not the case, nor do we want it to be.
You could also argue that if the Raptors wanted to stop him, they need to. It's not impossible, as much as Shaq would like to convince us otherwise. The Raptors were uniquely ill-equipped after the Jermaine O'Neal trade to combat Shaq's size. He's unlikely to be gifted that kind of opportunity in the playoffs.
The reasonable answer lies somewhere in the middle. The Raptors are going to get decimated inside until they are able to find a center or two with the muscle needed to defend him. Refs aren't likely to let the big man get away with the no blood, no foul approach in the playoffs. Relying on Shaq to get you 45 a night isn't an answer. But not having the muscle to put up a fight against him isn't one either.