Signs that you know Shaquille O’Neal and his team are still in the honeymoon phase:
- He actually shows on screens when the coaching staff asks him to. (Well actually…)
- He hasn’t completely ripped the team’s star player. (If you think he won’t one day rip LeBron, you weren’t paying attention when he left Phoenix. If Steve Nash isn’t spared from Shaq’s wrath, I don’t know who would be.)
- He’s actually working to stay in shape.
That last one’s pretty important. Injuries have never really been Shaq’s problem, but working to recover from them while staying in shape has been. He’s notorious for his slow recovery periods, and when he left a Cavs game with a broken thumb, I won’t pretend it didn’t create some parallels to his infamous toe injuries.
I expected Shaq to return in time for the playoffs, but out of shape and perhaps unable to resume play at his previous level.
I was wrong. At least according to this piece of anecdotal evidence by Brian Windhorst of the Cleveland Plain Dealer:
During the first quarter while his teammates were out playing the
Pistons, Shaquille O’Neal was in the weight room at The Q working out
and doing some light rehab with his thumb, which is out of a cast and
now in a small splint. He wasn’t on a scale, but to the naked eye he appears to have lost
weight since he went down with the injury just about a month ago.
When he left to go to Florida after the surgery he was telling
teammates that he’d not just be back before the end of the regular
season, but that he’d be in better shape when he comes back than went
he left. Nothing can prepare anyone for playing in real games and it will
probably take a while for him to get some rhythm when he does return.
But if there were any concerns about O’Neal letting himself go because
he’s not playing, take it from me — it appears to have been quite the
Shaq is pretty essential for the Cleveland’s playoff run, and to know that O’Neal isn’t treating his time off the court like a vacation has to bring a few sighs of relief from Cavs fans. There will still be some adjustment to work out how O’Neal and Antawn Jamison play alongside each other upon Shaq’s return, but the two are fairly complementary. It should only be a matter of time before battle station Cavaliers is fully operational, and if that doesn’t strike fear into the hearts of men, I don’t know what could.
Michael Beasley hasn’t played all that much for the New York Knicks. The journeyman forward is 10th in minutes played for the team, and is a bench contributor at this stage in his career.
Beasley appeared to be a bit overexcited to get some run late in Sunday’s win over the Atlanta Hawks, 111-107. Having played just 10 minutes in the game, Beasley quickly racked up three fouls in the span of one minute and 45 seconds.
That earned him his sixth foul — the others were picked up earlier — and a standing ovation from the Madison Square Garden crowd after his disqualification.
Support your guys, NBA fans, even if they’re out here getting DQ’d after scoring one point and grabbing two rebounds.
Kobe Bryant is just about everywhere during retirement. We’ve talked before about how his post-playing career revisionism is one of the greatest works of sports marketing currently underway.
Of course, Ol’ Bean has to take some days off from being a “storyteller” and that includes cheering on his hometown Philadelphia Eagles. Bryant was born in Philly and lived there for various parts of his childhood, of course going pro directly from Lower Merion High School, located in a nearby suburb.
So despite the return of the Los Angeles Rams, it appears that Kobe is still an Eagles fan through and through. He apparently even spoke to the Eagles for half an hour before the team practiced in California on Friday.
Bryant also gave the world a little video message.
The bummer news for Eagles fans, of course, was that it was Philadelphia QB and MVP candidate Carson Wentz who was hit high and low on Sunday, and the team fears that he has torn his ACL.
Kobe is looking pretty thick in that jersey. Maybe they should work him out and see if he can’t beat out Nick Foles for the starting job the rest of the season?
Victor Oladipo was sent from the Oklahoma City Thunder to the Indiana Pacers along with Domantas Sabonis as part of a major trade for Paul George.
Boy, Pacers fans have got to be glad things have turned out the way they have.
Oladipo is having a career season in terms of scoring, rebounding, blocks, 3-point shooting and field goal percentage. His advanced stats look good too, as Oladipo’s efficiency per-100 possessions in many offensive categories have seen a rise to go along with his box score bump.
On Sunday, Oladipo scored a career-high 47 points in an overtime win against the Denver Nuggets, 126-116.
Oladipo’s performance was incredible, adding seven rebounds, six assists, two steals, and a block to go along with his 47 points. Oladipo shot 15-28 from the field, including 6-of-12 from 3-point range, and added 11 points from the free-throw line.
Watch the full highlights of Oladipo’s performance in the video above.
LeBron James is now rumored to be headed to about 29 NBA teams this summer when he can opt out of his current contract and become a free agent. Earlier this week, we heard rumblings that LeBron could be interested in sharing a Los Angeles Lakers roster with Dallas Mavericks center-at-large Nerlens Noel.
Now we’re hearing that NBA executives think the Houston Rockets have a chance of nabbing The King in the summer of 2018.
All aboard the Banana Boat.
According to USA Today’s Sam Amick, both the Rockets themselves and rival execs think Houston is a real landing spot for James thanks in part to how well they are playing this season. James Harden is having another MVP-caliber year, and Chris Paul has played beautifully in his return.
Via USA Today:
While James has made it clear that he won’t deliberate his uncertain future until the Cavs’ season is complete, there is strong belief in Rockets circles that they’ll have a legitimate shot at landing the four-time MVP this summer. Rival executives also believe the Rockets will have a real chance. And once you really look at it, when you get past all the noise about the Lakers and even the compelling case for the up-and-coming Philadelphia 76ers, it makes all sorts of sense.
The only team we haven’t heard connecting rumors about is the Cleveland Cavaliers themselves. LeBron — whose family lives in LA — recently bought a new house there and all signs point to James heading to the Western Conference. Well, unless he goes to the Philadelphia 76ers, of course.
Then again it felt like a certainty that LeBron would head to the New York Knicks nearly a decade ago, an idea that seems hilarious in retrospect. The NBA is weird, and if LeBron dips from Cleveland expect it to get even weirder.