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Shaquille O’Neal Extends Quest for 5th Championship

Shaquille O'Neal joins the Boston Celtics to seek his fifth NBA titleShaquille O'Neal joins the Boston Celtics to seek his fifth NBA titleShaquille O’Neal signed with the Boston Celtics earlier this month. The 2010 NBA runners up look to strengthen their presence in the paint with the league’s oldest active player, who remains a modest threat down low. The Celts will need to shore up their veteran roster if they hope to compete with the Miami Heat since their Eastern Conference rivals acquired LeBron James and Chris Bosh.

The 38-year-old Shaq may be looking at his last season in the NBA. He will start the year as Boston’s back-up center, with Jermaine O’Neal taking the first string spot. But if Kendrick Perkins can return to full health, O’Neal’s playing time could be severely limited.

It doesn’t matter much to Shaq. He just wants another ring, and he says he’s willing to play whatever role the team needs in order to accomplish his goal.

O’Neal entered the league in 1992 as a first overall pick drafted by the Orlando Magic. He earned  NBA Rookie of the Year honors in 1993, the first of many accolades for the Louisiana State University alum.

Shaq is also a 15-time NBA all-star, with eight selections to the All-NBA first team. He has twice been the NBA’s season scoring leader, and was the 2000 NBA Most Valuable Player. He has also won the NBA finals MVP award three times.

Shaq’s most recent bid to add a fifth championship ring to his collection was last season, when he joined the regular season’s most dominant team, the Cleveland Cavs. However, injury sidelined the big man near the end of the season, and his team, led by the underachieving LeBron James, imploded in the Eastern Conference semi-finals versus O’Neal’s old team, the Orlando Magic.

James departed for the Miami Heat in the summer’s biggest sports media event, leaving many Cavs in limbo. Shaq heads to the Celtics, while fellow Cleveland big man, Zydrunas Ilgauskas, joined James in Miami. Shaq himself is a former member of the Heat, having won a championship with that franchise in 2006. His other three NBA titles came with the L.A. Lakers, who repeated as champs in 2010.

It all gets a little incestuous with the so many of the league’s best players competing for just a small pool of teams. It’s no coincidence that none of these superstars ever signed free agent contracts with the Milwaukee Bucks or Portland Trailblazers, but such is the new nature of pro sports.

In 2010-11, the NBA’s top teams will once again be the Miami Heat, the Boston Celtics, and the L.A. Lakers. There’s virtually no question of some franchise winning its first ever title in 2011. Whether it’s Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Shaquille O’Neal and the rest of the aging Celtics; or Kobe Bryant and the perennially strong L.A. Lakers; or the Chris Bosh, LeBron James, and Dwayne Wade super squad with the Miami Heat, the competition is growing rather slim. That’s bad news for fans of parity and smaller market teams.

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Last modified on Monday, 11 April 2011 17:58

Happy is a regular contributor to RosebudMag.com and has written for various other publications, including Black Belt, Inside Hockey, and FoxSports.com. He transitioned to life as a writer following a decade-long career as a touring musician. He lives with his son in Vancouver, British Columbia

Website: www.rosebudmag.com/hkreter

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