These days, Shaq has become a fountain of knowledge, offering words of wisdom to the NBA’s new generation.
Don’t look now, but Shaquille O’Neal is pulling up on 50 fast. The first NBA baller to go platinum in the rap game turns 47-year-old today.
On the court, Shaq’s combination of speed, strength size, athleticism, flair, confidence, and leadership is mythical: 4 NBA championships, 3 finals MVPs, and 1 league MVP to stamp 19 years, 28, 596 regular season points and 13,099 rebounds of brilliance.
Few legends have transcended the game as emphatically and totally as Shaq. He was not only one of the Goliaths of the NBA and the last truly great center, but a larger-than-life character who ’s made his mark as an entertainment and business mogul. These days, Shaq has become a fountain of knowledge, offering words of wisdom to the NBA’s new generation via his seat at the TNT hoops table. Sometimes the advice is on point like a sniper and other times it is head scratching.
On TNT’s Players Only postgame show, “Shaqcrates” offered some advice to Kyrie Irving, whose Celtics might have recaptured some hope for the season with a 128-95 thrashing of the World Champion Golden State Warriors on Tuesday night.
Shaq’s words of wisdom come straight from the American classic, “Bad News Bears Go to Japan”:
“Let Them Play.”
Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown finally balled out like they did in the 2018 postseason and the MIA on Gordon Hayward was rescinded as he dropped 30 points following a week of media attacks that blamed him for the Celtics’ failing chemistry. Those that weren’t blaming Hayward were blaming Irving, the self-proclaimed leader of a fifth-place squad with a pedestrian 36-29 record. Irving’s ball-dominating style has been blamed for the inconsistent play of the Celtics’ baby boomers.
Some folks probably looked at Shaq and thought the big man was bugging, considering Kyrie is still only 26 years old and now isn’t the time for him to play an aging veteran role and let the young boys run the show. Irving is still young too.
He’s been through the NBA wars with LeBron in Cleveland, but he’s only five years removed from legal drinking age. Although his knees may disagree, age-wise, Kyrie is in his prime, and he came to the Celtics to be the leader of the show.
The problem is, the Celtics don’t need Kyrie to be Michael Jordan. They need him to be more like Isiah Thomas. The frustration has mounted.
Kyrie came out and had five assists in the first half last night. The Celtics shared the wealth and they benefited from it.
“The great Phil Jackson taught me that if you win nothing matters,” Shaq said. “I say that to say this…Kyrie had 15 shots, they won the game, nothing matters. Now, if you’re a superstar and take just 15 shots and we lose then it matters.
That’s the issue Brad Stevens has been working out all season. Last night, we got a glimpse of what the Celtics can be if Irving plays the background a bit and allows the younger players to get going earlier in the game, become a bigger part of the offense. That’s what Shaq’s point is. It’s not a knock on Kyrie to fall back and let Brown, Tatum, and Hayward run the team.
Shaq was encouraging Kyrie to use his leadership wisely. Let the young fellows ball out right now and gain confidence because they will be needed in the playoffs. Shaq deferred to Kobe at times and then when he came to Miami, he encouraged Wade to be the man. Knowing when to fall back and when to go killer garnered Shaq four rings.
The last of his ilk, Shaq deserves the highest praise and the NBA and TV execs know exactly what they’re doing by keeping him around and letting him spread his infectious personality and basketball knowledge to millions of viewers during the season.