Kurt Helin

shaq o'neal

Shaq mythologizing himself says he’s the reason big men don’t come in the paint anymore


With the advent of the 2004 NBA rule changes — no hand checking on the perimeter, zone defenses allowed — defenses started to evolve. By 2008 you had the Boston Celtics winning an NBA title with an overload defense where an extra defender came to the strong side to make it hard to get the ball in the post (and to cut off driving lanes from wings trying to isolate). To combat that offensive system, bigs who could face up, shoot from the outside, and draw their defenders out of the paint became more valuable. As younger players watched those bigs — Kevin Garnett on down — and saw the way the game was going, they started to emulate their idols. The game has seen fewer and fewer traditional bigs.

That or Shaq scared them all out of the paint.

If you ask Shaquille O’Neal — the greatest creator and promoter of his own mythology — it is the later. In the weekend where he is entering the Naismith Hall of Fame, here is part of Shaq’s Q&A with Shams Charania of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.

There won’t be another (traditional center) like me, and like Yao (Ming, also entering the Hall of Fame), ever again. We feel the dearth of the real center. I believe the way that I dominated, I made guys not want to come inside and feel the pain. That’s why you have a lot of guys stepping out and shooting jumpers now. We’re all products of our environment, so when I was coming up, I saw big men playing in the middle. The kids saw me playing and realized that they couldn’t endure the pain and nor did they want to take the pain. So they started shooting jumpers – a la Dirk Nowitzki.

Yea, that’s it.

This is just vintage Shaq mythology making.

Part of the fun of Shaq is the mythology — he was the Big Cactus, the Big Aristotle, Diesel, Superman, Osama Bin Shaq, and all the other nicknames — and he was a fan favorite everywhere. His personality of being a big kid loving the game was part of the draw.

But don’t take myths too seriously.


Larry Brown, John Thompson, Dr. J to present Allen Iverson at Hall of Fame enshrinement

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Allen Iverson was more than a great player — league MVP, seven time All-NBA, 11 time All-Star — he was a guy who changed the game. The swagger, the hip-hop culture (which David Stern tried to fight for so long) rode into the game on the wave of Allen Iverson. And it was good for the league.

He belongs in the Hall of Fame, where he will be enshrined this weekend.

Who will be there to present him?

As for who will be presenting the other entrants that night, here’s a list via Marc Spears of The Undefeated. Bill Russell is going to be a busy man.

Report: Cavaliers sign former Net Markel Brown, give him chance to make team in camp

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The Cleveland Cavaliers enter training camp looking for guard depth. They technically have three open roster spots, although it’s expected J.R. Smith will sign a deal eventually to take up one of those.

The Cavaliers are going to give Markel Brown the chance to grab a spot on the roster, as reported by Shams Charania of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.

The Cavaliers need help at the backup point guard spot and Brown is more of an undersized two guard, so we’ll see if this ends up being a fit.

Brown is a good defender but struggles on the offensive end. He took almost 60 percent of his shots beyond 16 feet last season, but shot just 36.6 percent from 16 feet to the arc, and 31.4 percent from three. This was a struggling Nets team that is searching for a solid backcourt, and the organization chose not to bring him back.

This is a longshot for Brown, but he’s getting a chance.

Stephen Curry gets game-winning shot blocked by 17-year-old camper


Stephen Curry is on his sell more Under Armour shoes promotional tour of China and Asia, which has included a series of camps and clinics with young players from the country.

At one stop that included taking some of the top campers to both go through drills, then play in a game at a larger event that night. Curry entered that game late, and his team needed a game-winning three. No problem, Curry hits those all the time .

This time a 17-year-old blocked his shot.

Kevin Love couldn’t have done it any better.

That young man was named game MVP and earned an invite to the Warriors star’s elite camp in San Francisco.

Sacramento Kings sign Isaiah Cousins to partially guaranteed deal


Isaiah Cousins was a good gamble by the Kings at No. 59 in the draft. Cousins spent last season playing in the shadow of Buddy Hield in Oklahoma, but he stood out on his own with his versatility — he hit 41 percent from three, can create in the pick-and-roll, and plays solid defense. He showed a little of that potential at Summer League.

The Kings are going to bring him to camp, something reported by Shams Charania of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.

The smart money is on the Kings sending Cousins to the D-League to develop more.

As noted by The Vertical’s Bobby Marks, the Kings have 14 guaranteed and one of their partial guaranteed deals is Ty Lawson, who almost certainly will make the roster (the Kings need Lawson as a veteran point guard to run the show while Darren Collison is out on a yet-to-be-announced suspension after his guilty plea to domestic violence charges).

Cousins could develop into a “3&D” guy, but he needs time on the court and working with coaches.