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Saturday, November 17, 2007

Dwyane Wade Hopes to Motivate Shaquille O'Neal to Actually Care About This Season

Does this sound vaguely familiar? "Probably this year more so than any year I have been more vocal with Shaq, talking to him and trying to motivate him. But the main thing is Shaq has got to be self-motivated. He has got to be willing and ready to do it. Even though he is not getting the ball as much as he wants, we need him to help lead this team in other ways, whether it's rebounding the ball or passing the ball the way he knows how to pass." Is that a recycled quote from the Shaquille O'Neal-Kobe Bryant feud? Nope; those are the words of Dwyane Wade, who is finding out what Bryant discovered several years ago: O'Neal's desire and commitment do not match his imposing size and (now rapidly diminishing) physical gifts.

Let's see: O'Neal feuded with Penny Hardaway because O'Neal wanted to receive the lion's share of the credit, he feuded with Bryant because Bryant actually wanted him to get in shape (and because O'Neal wanted to receive the lion's share of the credit) and now Dwyane Wade finds it necessary to publicly question--to "call out" as people like to say--O'Neal. The funny thing about this is that after O'Neal left L.A., he briefly did everything that Bryant had wanted him to do: he got in shape, played defense and accepted a secondary role on offense that better suited his current capabilities and the growing skills of his superstar partner. Now, O'Neal has the one extra ring that, in his mind, validates his position vis a vis Bryant and the Lakers and he apparently has decided to mail in the rest of his career--while collecting $20 million per year.

It is likely that even if O'Neal were in great shape and highly motivated that he could no longer dominate on a night in and night out basis. That is not the point; the point is that O'Neal could often get away with cutting corners when he was in his prime but this does not mean that he was right to do so or that Bryant was wrong to urge him to work harder. Somehow I doubt that Wade's comment will be viewed as a distraction, as proof that he is a bad or selfish teammate (he's not, but neither was Bryant when he spoke the truth)--or even as evidence that O'Neal should be working harder. People will likely just dismiss the whole thing by saying that O'Neal is old, that he's had a great career (which is true) and that time has passed him by.

posted by David Friedman @ 6:16 AM

6 comments

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6 Comments:

At Saturday, November 17, 2007 3:04:00 PM, Blogger vednam said...

I do agree that Shaq has sometimes not been in the best of condition, and that his laziness or overconfidence or whatever has cost him a title or two.

However, I'm not sure how appropriate it is to attribute Shaq's diminishing production nowadays to lack of motivation or effort. Shaq is really getting up there in years. Which Centers have played at a substantially higher level at age 35-36 than Shaq is now? Only Wilt and Kareem, and even their games were declining. Kareem's rebounding was down to 7-8 per game, and Wilt was no longer carrying much of a scoring load. The mid 30s seems to be the age when all the great centers start to noticeably decline. I know people (maybe Wade included) probably expect Shaq to be able to come out and do more just because his name is still Shaq, but I honestly don't think he can do much more than he is doing already at his age. Maybe Wade is not only referring to on-court production, but rather an attitude change of being "motivated" which would then permeate the team.

 
At Sunday, November 18, 2007 1:49:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Based on Wade's comments it certainly seems that he believes that O'Neal can deliver more in the effort department.

In my post I acknowledged that it is unlikely that there is a way for O'Neal to turn back the clock and become a dominant player on a night in, night out basis. My point is that during his prime he often got away with bad habits and now those bad habits are catching up with him. The same mindset that Wade is criticizing now Kobe was ticked off about several years ago.

Shaq just said something to the effect that Wade is right and that he has no problem with what he said, so the difference now versus a few years ago is that Shaq is mature enough to not get in a feud with his superstar teammate and that the media--to this point--is not jumping all over Wade for daring to suggest that Shaq should work harder.

 
At Sunday, November 18, 2007 1:19:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

regggie

shaq is old now he dont have it anymore wade has a valid point and shaq respects what wade says because he likes wade and there good freiends. at 35 every player especially shaq size declines to expect shaq to be dominant still is ridicolous he old now and a thing of the past. shaq has had great career and gets the lion share of the credit no matter where he's been and he should of he was the best player. shaq and wade is diffrent from shaq and kobe wade respects shaq and vice versa, shaq has respect for kobe but kobe had a lack of respect for shaq, and kobe wanted to be the best player and shaq wanted to be the best player they never got along because usually when two people want one spot they dont get along. shaq laziness might of cost him a title but i think your rambling about it is old now shaq legacy by most is etched and stone he will always be a better player than kobe wade or any body he played with laziness or not out of shape or not at the end of the day everything you say is pointless he better than duncan byt the way too.

 
At Sunday, November 18, 2007 2:31:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Reggie:

I understand that Shaq is old; the issue is whether or not he is working as hard as he should. Wade apparently believes that Shaq can and should do more.

My point regarding "lion's share of credit" is not whether or not Shaq deserved it but that it was important to Shaq that he get more recognition than Penny and Kobe; that constant craving for credit, deserved or not, created a lot of tension.

Kobe did not "disrespect" Shaq; he demanded a consistent work ethic from Shaq to equal Kobe's own work ethic at a time in Shaq's career when Shaq could get by without working so hard. If Shaq had worked as hard as Kobe they would have won five or six championships (and would still most likely be teammates). I don't think that this is a tired story at all; Shaq could have had a completely different legacy. Certainly, this is a less tired story than all of the wild (and false) Kobe trade rumors and all of the ludicrous speculation about whether or not Kobe would play hard (or even play for the Lakers at all) this season.

By virtue of his size, Shaq in his prime was more dominant than Kobe (and anyone else who was active at the time). However, Kobe is a better basketball player in terms of all-around fundamental skills. For at least the past two years, Kobe has also been a more dominant player than Shaq due to Shaq's decline.

 
At Monday, November 19, 2007 1:15:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

reggie

he got the lion share credit because he deserved it and he was better than penny and kobe. shaq was going to get the credit regardless kobe was jealous of shaq if anything shaq wasnt jealous of kobe thats ridicolous was jordan jealous of pipen too? that would be the equivalent of shaq being jealous of kobe makes no sense, youre a huge kobe fan who defends his everymove so it's not a shock you make this up as well. shaq was the man by media players and everybody else he had no reason tobe jealous of kobe even when miami won a couple of years ago he got alot of credit for that and wasnt best player on team in finals. his mere presence was a reason wade was doing what he did a little bit at least. kobe was questioned before he left shaq people thought he wasnt as good without shaq or wouldnt win a title or was lucky to play with shaq. shaq was the man kobe didnt want to play with shaq anymore to prove he could win without shaq and he has failed at that so far.

shaq legacy is top 8 all time top number 4 center another title would add to it slightly but shaq legacy is already done it cant be hurt or added anymore.. you act like he wasnt great when he was the best player of his era by basically everybody and definetely better than kobe give it up david shaq is a legend.

kobe was 27 AND 28 LAST two years he should be more dominant than a 34 and 35 year shaq thats saying alot david. and kobe could shoot better than shaq and dribble duh he a gurad shaq is a huge center thats saying alot too? shaq has more impact ill take him over kobe anyday at his peak he made careers and changed careers the diesel baby.

 
At Monday, November 19, 2007 3:23:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Reggie:

I'm not saying that Shaq did not get most of the credit in Orlando and L.A. or that he did not deserve to receive most of the credit; I'm saying that--at least until he arrived in Miami and was already an older player--Shaq was jealous of any attention or credit that his so-called "sidekicks" received. Roland Lazenby, who has written several books about the NBA in general and the Lakers in particular, has been close with the legendary Tex Winter for years and Winter described to him how petty Shaq could be about such things. I realize that this is not the image of Shaq that the media generally portrays or that you want to believe but what you want to believe does not change the truth. Whether or not it makes sense to you for Shaq to be jealous of the attention that other players got it is true that he was jealous. When Kobe arrived in L.A., Shaq did not embrace him as a talented player who could help him win championships; he looked at him as a rival for attention, shot attempts, etc. Shaq should have been the veteran leader and should have been above all that but somehow his negative response toward Kobe became, in the public's mind, Kobe "disrespecting" Shaq.

Kobe definitely wanted Shaq to be in shape when they played together but, as I've pointed out countless times, he had nothing to do with Shaq leaving; Shaq demanded a trade and the Lakers traded him.

Show me one thing that I have written that denied Shaq's greatness as a player. I have never denied that. I have criticized him for not being focused and committed enough to reach his maximum potential but despite those flaws he has had a great career. If you go back and look here you will find that in 2004-05 I said that he and not Steve Nash should have won the MVP. Shaq has declined noticeably since then and Kobe was the best player in the NBA in 2006 and 2007 (and still is right now, though Garnett will probably win the MVP in a landslide this year).

 

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