Tuesday , Nov , 20 , 2007 Oly Sandor

Pat Riley & Dwyane Wade Shouldn’t Have Revoked Shaquille O’Neal’s Superstar Pass

But Shaq’s superstar privileges were recently revoked. His coach and former understudy publicly bashed him.

On Saturday, Heat sideline boss Pat Riley benched O’Neal sixty seconds into the Miami-New Jersey game. Last week, Miami superstar Dwyane Wade criticized O’Neal’s poor play …

NBA superstars operate under different rules than their mortal teammates. 

For years, Shaquille O’Neal enjoyed the privileges of being an elite player. He let himself get out of shape. Defending the pick-and-roll became optional. And he scheduled surgery on the “company time” of an NBA season.

None of us questioned his above the law status. How could we? After all, Shaq possessed talent and personality, mesmerizing us with his on-court dominance and charming us with his gregarious nature.

Of course, he also led the Lakers to three consecutive NBA Titles. And questioning Shaq’s top-of- the- food-chain status was bad for business. Just ask Kobe Bryant, who’s image still hasn’t recovered from challenging O’Neal in 2002.

But Shaq’s superstar pass was recently revoked. His coach and former understudy publicly bashed him.

On Saturday, Heat sideline boss Pat Riley benched O’Neal sixty seconds into the Miami-New Jersey game. Last week, Miami superstar Dwyane Wade criticized O’Neal’s poor play.

The Hall-of-Fame post had no choice but to accept getting shown up. O’Neal did respond, well-sort of. There was no catchy nickname, pearly-white smile, or trash-talking. Instead the veteran meekly told reporters, “I’m doing it my way from now on.”

Riley and Wade must be careful. There is a fine line between motivating and embarrassing. And Miami must have their big center to get back in the playoff race.

Pushing too hard could be disastrous. O’Neal has always been the show and now he’s dealing with problems on-court and at home. Superstar or mere mortal, the Heat still need him.

Should Riley and Wade have publicly criticized O’Neal? Get at us in the comment box with your thoughts.

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