Ball Don't Lie - NBA

Shaquille O'Neal(notes) is the basketball equivalent of a 1,000-year-old man. His legs are made from a rich, fragrant cedar and his joints are greased each morning with a combination of chili pepper-infused olive oil and Gorilla Snot. Needless to say, Shaq's advancing age has robbed him of some — OK, most — of his athleticism. And because he's not dedicated to maintaining his outsized body, he's become a lot worse as a basketball player over the years. When that happens, teams pay you less money. As such, the newest oldest Celtic will be taking a bit of a pay cut in order to chase his fifth ring — somewhere in the neighborhood of $19 million less than he made last year.

That's a pretty significant dock in pay, my friends. Playing for the veteran's minimum will really hamper Shaq's ability to get a Superman bed for his new home, that's for sure. And while we all feel very sad for O'Neal making hardly any money, it seems like he won't have much to worry about in Boston. According to Thomas Grillo's Boston Herald report, the big guy will be doing just fine since he'll actually make more money off-court than when he's playing.

Sports marketing experts say the 7-foot-1-inch O'Neal, who pulled in $15 million from endorsement deals last year, could see more green after landing in Boston.

"Shaq is a marketing giant," said John Vrooman, a sports economist at Vanderbilt University. "He will benefit from the Hub's strong media presence, where there's money to be made on local endorsements."

O'Neal ranked sixth in the latest Sports Illustrated highest-earning athletes list, pulling down $36 million last season including his $21 million paycheck from the Cleveland Cavaliers. Boston signed him to a two-year, veteran-minimum contract worth about $3 million.

Yeah, that tiny salary isn't looking too bad. When a guy can make $15 million as a second superstar in Cleveland, his endorsement portfolio must be pretty healthy. Mighty healthy, in fact.

And speaking of health, that's exactly what a few of the Shaq-centric endorsements on the horizon deal with — kind of hilarious considering the spokesman. The Massachusetts-located makers of Icy Hot already have Shaq shilling for their fire cream, as do a local producer of a barely known sugar substitute called Susta. Both companies could make Shaq a bigger part of their marketing, which means a bigger check for O'Neal. That makes sense because when you think Shaquille O'Neal, you think body maintenance and healthy eating.

So don't worry about Shaquille O'Neal, you guys. He's going to be fine. He'll still be making tons and tons of money, plus he's basically best friends with Justin Bieber now. What else could anyone ever ask for?

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