Shaquille O’Neal: C’s are ‘best team I’ve been on’
|11.25.10 at 1:33 am ET|
Kevin Garnett had certainly seen this from his frontcourt teammate before.
Garnett was on the Minnesota Timberwolves and Shaquille O’Neal on the Los Angeles Lakers in the early 2000s when O’Neal – along with close friend Kobe Bryant – was leading the Lake Show to three straight NBA titles from 2000-02.
Shaq’s Lakers were always the team KG and the Wolves could never conquer out West. On Wednesday, he was reminded why.
Shaq turned back the clock 10 years, scoring 25 on 9-of-10 shooting from the field while hauling in 11 rebounds in Boston’s 89-83 win over the Nets at TD Garden. O’Neal played nearly 32 minutes, hit his last five shots from the floor and even sank a pair of key free throws which drew as loud a cheer from the sellout crowd as his alley-oop dunk moments earlier.
‘Well he has his family in town, so that’s tough to beat,” Garnett said. “I know he’s a huge family guy. His family’s not always with him, so maybe he got like a boost of adrenaline from his family or something, but he looked great I told him.
“But he looked the 2000 Shaq, the ‘99 Shaq, the 2001 and 2002 to 2003 to 2004 to 2005 to 2006. He looked fresh tonight. He looked really good. I thought he did a great job of getting us in the bonus early. He definitely was the target tonight and reload him. On this team night in and night out we are going to have a different guy from Truth to Ray to anybody, and tonight he was Shaq.’
O’Neal’s coach had a similar take on O’Neal’s powerful night on the parquet.
‘That was the young one,” Doc Rivers said. “I mean, he was just good. He had great energy. And ‘ well we had to have it. We had to leave him on the floor at times. I used the one time-out in the fourth just ‘cause we were about to pass out. He was just ‘ his energy, his size, everything ‘ he was just, he was phenomenal for us.’
O’Neal said he was just happy to give the Garden crowd a Thanksgiving Eve treat – even at a bargain rate of $1.5 million annually.
‘I think people appreciate my hard work, especially over the past 18 years,” O’Neal said. “I think they understood that when I came here for the 1.5, they knew what was on my mind. For them, it’ll be [NBA title] 18. For the big three, it’ll be two. And for me it’ll be big number 5. That’s the only thing that I’ll focus on right now.
‘This is a great team. The best team I’ve been on. They’ve got a lot of weapons on this team, so on any given night anybody can be the leading scorer. The team’s very unselfish, so the shots are going to drop off and they easily could have shot them and did that but’¦great game. Great team effort. And now we’ve just got to keep it going.’
Best team O’Neal has ever played on? Even better than those three NBA title teams in the early 2000s and the 2006 Miami Heat?
‘Yes. Best team,” O’Neal repeated. “As far as players’¦.as far as guys being really close’¦I know we’ve only been at this for two months, but hopefully the outcome to be a good one.’
At this rate, no one is going to argue, especially if O’Neal winds up helping to bring No. 18 to Boston.