Fri Oct 08 11:45am EDT
I watched most of Thursday night's Celtics/Nets game while walking on the treadmill, because I'm in awesome shape. Two of those three things are true.
I watched most of Thursday night's Celtics/Nets game, true, while walking on the treadmill. Very true. Awesome shape? I'm in terrible shape. I honestly eat nothing but lean protein, little fat, whole grains, and green greens; but because I'm so rarely active, I'm in terrible, terrible shape. Not super fat, just pathetic, considering my age and what I used to be. Behind the Box Score is no reason for me to look like I do.
During Thursday night's game, you couldn't help but notice that Shaq is working on a push-shot for his free throws. No flick of the wrist, with those freebies. All one-armed and like a dart. A dart with arc, except that there's precious little arc. Even for Shaq, it looks awful. So bad. And because there's no rotation and no form, Shaq is at the mercy of aim.
And his aim, as it is with anyone shooting a ball into a hoop 10 feet in the air (no matter their height) from 15 feet away, is not something to rely upon.
Shaq's not all that concerned, though. As he mentioned to Rob Bradford:
"I never take advice," O'Neal told WEEI.com after Tuesday's practice, saying he learned that lesson by his second season in the league.
"Actually taking advice made my numbers drop. Whatever you use to get you to where you are at you should never change."
Where O'Neal is at is an incredibly successful basketball player, [with] a prolific ability to miss free throws. He has the second-worst free throw shooting percentage in the history of the NBA (.527), with Chamberlain the only player to have shot worse (.511).
(Fear not, even if O'Neal duplicates his 112-for-226 performance of a season ago -- .496 -- it will only knock him down to .526.
"I could care less. How many years has he played? I'm not smarter than anybody else he's had. He's only had Riley, Phil Jackson," said Celtics coach Doc Rivers. "I'm not going to try and do anything with him. The day we signed Shaq I got letters, people, everybody giving advice. If you can get a hold of him, have at it."
Actually, Doc Rivers, Shaq has had Matt Guokas, Brian Hill, Del Harris, Kurt Rambis, Stan Van Gundy, Ron Rothstein, Mike D'Antoni, Mike Brown, and you. Plus Phil Jackson and Pat Riley. Now, I double-checked that list, but I wrote the previous sentences out just by memory, and it turns out I was correct. I'm a mug with a modem. You're an NBA coach.
Shaq looks bad. And he's making excuses. The first thing that sprung to mind Thursday night, as he missed those free throws, is that this isn't a person who touched a basketball all summer. May have worked out, may have lifted weights, but is now treating free throws like a given. Despite entering the league in 1992, and shooting terribly in all the years since.
The Celtics can be great this year. But they have a real problem in the middle, if Shaquille continues to be as obstinate as ... well, as Shaq always is. Nevermind.
(Also, Doc Rivers. You "could care less?" That's readily apparent.)