Monday , Nov , 29 , 2010 Hoopsvibe

Older, wiser Shaq the NBA’s best bargain?

Shaquille O’Neal is averaging 22.7 minutes per game and has provided the Celtics everything they could have hoped through 16 games. A key to his resurgence is that he arrived without his Shaq-Fu attitude. While every superstar’s impact eventually fades, it is up to the star to determine how he wants his career to conclude. Some never recognize that their skills have eroded, while others decide to reinvent themselves as someone who can help their team despite diminishing talents. O’Neal said he decided to move to Sudbury to avoid the allure of the Boston nightlife and concentrate fully on basketball. During his postgame interview, two of his sons were milling around the locker room, soaking in the new environment. In his younger days, O’Neal said he would have capitalized on the Friday nightlife after a victory, especially with the weekend off. Not now.

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HoopsVibe’s Very Quick Call: Older and wiser.

In the twilight of his career, Shaquille O’Neal appears to be avoiding the pitfalls of his youth. No nightclubs. No attitude; just a team-first approach to helping the Boston Celtics.

It’s working, too. O’Neal is averaging 13 points and 7 rebounds in 22 minutes. He’s also hitting a scorching 69% of his attempts from the floor.

Best of all, O’Neal has bought into Coach Doc Rivers’ get-stops philosophy. The Big Shamrock isn’t doing his typical defense-is-a-contagious-disease routine.

Instead, O’Neal is clogging the lane; showing effectively on pick-and-rolls; and taking the pressure off veteran defensive anchor Kevin Garnett.

At $1.5 million per season, he’s the best bargain in the NBA.  Who would have thought that after O’Neal’s mediocre 2010 with the Cleveland Cavaliers?

–Oly Sandor.

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