The go-to video clip and blog post during the 2010-11 season, even with the Miami Heat banding together, usually centered around Blake Griffin. This year? It appeared as if it was going to be Minnesota's Ricky Rubio, but he's had to hand that mantle to Knicks point man Jeremy Lin. All three, thanks to Shaquille O'Neal, will be on the same team a week from Friday in the NBA's Rising Stars Challenge, after Shaq went big with his selections during Thursday night's TNT telecast.
And the coach of that boffo, blog-baiting team? None other than Chicago Bulls assistant coach Ron Adams, pictured above, according to the Chicago Tribune's K.C. Johnson. The defensive mastermind. The biggest part of some of the most stifling NBA defenses of the last decade under Scott Skiles, Tom Thibodeau, and his one year with the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2009-10 (they finished ninth that year, dropping down to 15th in the two seasons following Adams' departure). Mr. Showboat, provided that sensible boat ain't a damned show-off. The right guy to act as the go-between stuck in the middle of the modern era's Fanciest Dans, and perhaps the least fundamental MVP of all time in Shaquille O'Neal.
This is going to be great! That picture, above? It's from last December. And, with much love and respect to Mark Deeks from the great ShamSports.com (who first noticed this phenomenon four years ago), look at his media day photo from 2004:
He's a brilliant basketball mind, but we can't think of a more mismatched pairing. Shaq, lobs, Linsanity, Rubio's bangs, Shaq's weird suit that he'll definitely wear, some low-level R+B singers you've never heard of, scores of children in the stands who were given free tickets for showing up to school every day (which means their parents didn't want them around, even when they were sick), Kevin Harlan unintelligible on the sidelines, and Ron Adams.
You have to wonder if Adams will take the "disappear in frustration and take up tape-trading"-route that Eric Freeman anticipates for Tom Thibodeau as he approaches his first All-Star game as a coach.