The feeling of the people in Miami about Shaquille O’Neal and his book may best be summed up by a tweet from Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel:
There is the truth and then there is Shaq’s spin on his Heat departure.
But Shaq’s spin makes for an entertaining read. The chapter of his new book — Shaq Uncut: My Story — that deals with his final days with the Heat was published on ESPN over the weekend.
As we detailed before, Shaq says his ticket out of Miami was punched when he stood up to Pat Riley for being too hard on the team. Specifically, Riley threw Jason Williams out of practice for being “10 seconds late” and that Shaq had enough. As Shaq tells it, he and Riley did not get along and after that incident they almost came to blows. Soon after the Heat were shopping him around.
When he traded me, Pat denied we were having any problems. He told the media, “I loved Shaq when I got him and I love him today.”
He didn’t mean it. He hated the way I called him out. He didn’t like to be challenged. I’m sure he thought I was trying to destroy the culture he created. He was probably right. I thought his “culture” needed some tweaking.
Winderman recounts a different telling after the Shaq trade, when Heat owner Micky Arison spoke about how things went down.
Foremost, in the wake of the unloading of O’Neal, Arison spoke of the center’s push for a trade dating to December 2007, with the Dallas Mavericks the object of the center’s affections at the time….
Amid that unease, O’Neal’s Heat teammates at the time told stories of how the massive center would engage in horseplay in the locker room prior to games only to tell the team’s training staff he was physically unable to play.
Did free spirit Shaq and harda** Pat Riley have a clash of styles? You bet. But just be careful buying the idea that Shaq was the good guy in all this. Shaq was Shaq, and any time he ran into a culture that really pushed him to better use his talents (Kobe Bryant, for example) he pushed against it.
Still, Shaq makes a good read.
Jeremy Lin has discussed people not believing he plays in the NBA.
It apparently still happens.
Lin, whose Raptors are playing the Bucks in the Eastern Conference finals, via Bill Michaels Sports Talk Network:
After Game 2 in Milwaukee, I was trying to get to the team bus and one of the dudes in the Milwaukee arena just screams at me. He’s like, “Where do you think you’re going?!” And I’m like, “Uh, I’m trying to get to the team bus.” He’s like, “What?! Where’s your pass?” I was like, “I don’t have a pass. I don’t know what you’re talking about. I don’t have a pass.”
This happens in a lot of arenas, so I just kind of go with the flow.
It’s a fine line. Lin shouldn’t be profiled as a non-athlete because he’s Asian-American. Arena staffers should keep everyone safe by stopping unauthorized people.
Will Kyrie Irving stay in Boston? If not, what is Plan B?
Is Jimmy Butler back in Philadelphia next season? If he is will Tobias Harris be back?
What are the next steps to turn Denver into a contender?
I get into all of those things with the wise Keith Smith of Yahoo Sports (and Celtics Blog, and Real GM), we break down those three teams recently turned out of the playoffs. We also start off talking about teams actually in the playoffs, particularly Toronto’s comeback in the Eastern Conference Finals, and how those teams can take advantage against the Warriors with Kevin Durant out.
As always, you can check out the podcast below, listen and subscribe via iTunes at ApplePodcasts.com/PBTonNBC, subscribe via the fantastic Stitcher app, check us out on Google play, or check out the NBC Sports Podcast homepage and archive at Art19.
We want your questions for future podcasts, and your comments, so please email us at PBTpodcast@gmail.com.
Just four years ago, Nikola Jokic was a second-round pick still playing in the Adriatic League. Just three years ago, he was battling a struggling Jusuf Nurkic to be the Nuggets’ main center.
Yesterday, Jokic made the All-NBA first team.
Jokic has risen incredibly quickly. Before this season, he had never even been an All-Star.
That makes Jokic the first non-rookie in NBA history to make an All-NBA first team without a prior All-Star season (including ABA All-Stars).
The No. 41 pick in the 2014 draft, Jokic is just the fourth second-rounder to make an All-NBA first team since the NBA-ABA merger. The others: DeAndre Jordan, Marc Gasol and Marc Price.
For most players not immediately deemed to hold first-round talent, it takes a while to build stature in the NBA. Jokic made the All-NBA first team in just his fourth season. That’s way sooner than Gasol (seventh season), Price (seventh season) and Jordan (eighth season):
The Nuggets didn’t wait for this honor to make Jokic their franchise player. They gave him a near-max contract last summer, and by leading them into the second round of the playoffs, he triggered incentives to reach a max salary.
Denver has built a young supporting cast – mainly Jamal Murray and Gary Harris – to grow with Jokic. The Nuggets also signed veteran Paul Millsap, whose defense complements Jokic’s offensive-minded game.
So much is coming together so quickly for Denver, and Jokic’s honor is just the latest example.
Just after a rumor emerged about the Wizards trying to hire Trail Blazers president Neil Olshey…
Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:
It’s nice to be wanted. It always adds leverage in contract negotiations.
Olshey has done well in Portland, building a winner around Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum after LaMarcus Aldridge left. But Olshey’s job will get harder now.
Evan Turner, Meyers Leonard and Maurice Harkless each have another season on the expensive contracts Olshey gave them in the wild summer of 2016. That’ll inhibit flexibility this offseason.
Then, Lillard is set to sign a super-max extension that will take effect in 2021. As great as Lillard is, it’ll be difficult building a contender around someone projected to earn $43 million, $46 million, $50 million and $53 million from ages 31-34. There’s so little margin for error, especially if ownership is less willing to pay the luxury tax than the late Paul Allen was.
But Olshey has earned a chance to handle these dilemmas.