Sunday , Nov , 14 , 2010 Hoopsvibe

Shaq’s Boston state of mind: ‘No (expletive) layups’

O’Neal discussed his philosophy on unstoppable forces meeting immovable objects before Saturday’s game, reaffirming the notion that his primary job description is "enforcer."

"That’s what I do: No [expletive] layups," said O’Neal, throwing out a 12-letter curse word for effect. "Print it just like that and, if you get fined, come see me, and I’ll reimburse you."

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HoopsVibe’s Very Quick Call: Is Shaquille O’Neal feeling alright? Is he sick? Has he come down with the dreaded Bieber fever (they sang a duet, you know)?

I raise these questions because O’Neal has gladly accepted his role with the Boston Celtics as a defensive cog down the middle.

Touches are irregular. Shots are few and far between. Minutes have varied. And the future Hall of Fame center hasn’t uttered a word.

Instead, he’s bought into the green-and-white’s get-stops system. He’s active on the pick-and-roll. Opponents are paying the price for driving the lane.

It’s only been a few weeks, but O’Neal’s transition from glamorous superstar to blue-collar big is amazing.

He was once the face of the NBA. He was once the straw that stirred the drink for the three-time world champion Los Angeles Lakers. And he once treated defence like a contagious disease.

That was then, this is now. Unsuccessful stops in Phoenix and Cleveland have changed things.

O’Neal is simply trying to win a fifth NBA championship before ‘Father Time’ forces the inevitable: retirement.

So it’s not the flu. Or, an affliction caused by a midget pop star. Shaq’ has changed his stripes because the end is near.

–Oly Sandor.

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