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Nash Has Shaq's Back, Now That He's With Cavs

Jul 29, 2009 – 2:01 PM
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Tim Povtak

Tim Povtak %BloggerTitle%

Was anyone else chuckling yesterday when they read the comments by Steve Nash about Shaquille O'Neal fitting in so well with LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers this season?

Isn't that what the Chicago Bulls said a couple years ago about over-the-hill Ben Wallace when they duped the Cavs into taking his bloated contract, thinking his arrival would appease King James? Then the Cavs paid Wallace a lot of money for a year-and-a-half to do very little.

Nash was being nice and polite earlier this week, but he also was the same guy a month ago who told his general manager that he would not sign an extension with the Suns if O'Neal was still on the roster. Nash thought playing with Shaq was like dragging an anchor.

Reminds me of that old polka tune, can't remember the band, but the lyrics still ring in my ears: "I don't want her, you can have her, she's too fat for me.''

O'Neal, 37, actually is in pretty good shape, but he won't be basketball ready when the season starts, which will lead to nagging injuries. He's too busy with the WWE, which we loved watching, and his reality TV series, cross-training to compete with Michael Phelps and Serena Williams.

He will go down in history as one of the NBA's all-time greatest players and one of its most colorful ambassadors. It's tough not to like him, and what he has done for the game, but he won't be winning his fifth NBA title in Cleveland.

He's too slow and too far past his prime to do much other than slow down the James Gang while he lumbers up court.

"Nash: Shaq will fit great with LeBron, Cavs,'' blared the headline on ESPN's web site.

The truth is, Shaq will deflect much of the media and fan attention away from LeBron, letting him breath a little for once, but he won't help the Cavs get past the Magic or the Celtics this season. He will make the Cavs more popular than ever, topping the defending champion Lakers for national TV appearances. He will make us all clamor to watch, yet he isn't the answer for LeBron.

He loses interest quickly when the ball doesn't touch his hands in the post. In his two seasons in Phoenix, playing with the best point guard in basketball, Shaq didn't win a playoff series. The Suns failed to make the playoffs this spring.

What the Cavs really needed was a more mobile center to chase down offensive rebounds when LeBron misses, and Shaq does not chase offensive rebounds. He never did that in his prime, and he certainly can't do it now.

Magic center Dwight Howard is far too young and athletic for Shaq. And it's almost sad to see the matchup, because you want to see the old guy do well. Unfortunately, Shaq's muscle won't work when Howard runs rings around him. And Shaq certainly can't chase Boston's new center, Rasheed Wallace, at the 3-point line.

Sorry Cleveland, but don't let Nash's comments fool you into thinking this will work. He was just being nice.
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