Nothing Special, Really

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

It's Still Weird

One of my responsibilities at work is to go to ESPN.com 20 times a day because I'm bored. So I've read pretty much every article possible about the Shaquille O'Neal trade. I'm still not used to seeing his name in purple & orange, next to the words "Phoenix Suns".

I officially went on the record a couple of weeks ago supporting the trade somewhat, on the condition that he was healthy. I'm one of a few minority that actually like this trade, and after reading articles about just how healthy Shaq is, and given how well we've played since then (meaning there hasn't been a HUGE dropoff with Shawn's absence), I'm offically going on the record supporting this trade - period.

All the critics are saying "Shaq is fat, Shaq is slow, Shaq is past his prime, Shaq is done." They said these same things when he got traded to the Heat. One year later, they're champs.

Critcs are saying that Shaq can't mesh unless he's the alpha dog, that he'll complain if he's not getting touches. Wouldn't you be complaining about getting touches if your teammates included Ricky Davis, Jason Williams, Antoine Walker, Eddie Jones, Mark Blount, or Udonis Haslem? I don't think he'll be complaining about touches with people like Nash, Amare, Hill and Bell. Definitely not with Diaw on the team (Boris has to be the happiest about this trade, given his affinity for getting as close to the rim as possible before dishing it off). Maybe he'll complain about LB, but that's understandable. The Suns are one of the most unselfish teams in the league, and it sounds like Shaq realizes that.

Critics are saying Shaq can't defend the post right now. Who does he need to defend against?

Duncan? No one can stop Duncan, but I don't see why Shaq can't give us AT LEAST the same defense Kurt Thomas did.

Yao? He can't run with the Suns anyways, and they might not even make the playoffs.

Bynum? The kid is good but he's still limited offensively - and you best believe Shaq's going to step up his game against the Lakers.

Gasol? He's good but just as "slow" as Shaq is.

Boozer? Again, Shaq can give us what Kurt did.

Camby? He scores 9 points a game. He's not a threat.

Chandler? Biedrins? Aldridge? Please.

No, we're not getting a Dwight Howard like presence in the middle, but Shaq can still do the job. More importantly, he helps keep Amare out of foul trouble since Stat doesn't need to guard the post anymore.

I hate to see Shawn go - I'm still not used to him NOT being on the team anymore. He did things on the team that no one else could do. There's going to be times where we certainly miss having him. Did we get full value for him? No - he's a perennial all star at the tip of his prime.

But the way the NBA works today, we weren't going to get full value for him. He's a great player, but he's still a complementary-type player, and I don't see who we could have got for him that would equal his value. We tried KG, but no surprise, they didn't want him. I don't know of many teams who were going to give up almost 18 million in solid assets for one complementary player - yes, maybe the best complementary player in the league, but still just that.

Who else were we going to trade? Diaw? Who wants him at 9 million a season (including us, now)? Banks? No one's going to bite on his $4 millon contact. Amare? Hmmmm...

We probably could've had KG for Amare last year. Nash, Bell, Hill, Marion, & KG, with Barbosa & Diaw. Could have been a championship team. We'll never know. But instead of giving up a 24 year old superstar, we give up a 29 year old complementary player. I've been frustrated with Amare in the past, even earlier this season, but there's no question that he can be one of the most dominant players in the league. Marion never was and never will be that. Even if this doesn't work out, we've still got a strong young core of Amare, Barbosa & Diaw instead of just Barbosa & Diaw.

The West is stronger than ever before, and it's full of teams that were going to give us problems considering how our team was built. Yes, I know, injuries, suspensions, they all had an impact in the past. Maybe if everything go perfectly, we're the defending champs this year.

Maybe if Joe Johnson isn't injured, we win it in 2005.

Maybe if Bell & Amare aren't injured, we win it in 2006.

Maybe if Amare isn't suspended, we win it in 2007.

But all of you naysayers, the ones that want Shawn back on the team, do you really think that this year looked any easier now that we're all healthy? Are you really that confident that, with Marion on the team instead of Shaq, that this was our best chance to win it? Maybe that's why it's easier for me to accept this trade, because I don't think this was going to be our year. Our record is strong, but weak against the toughest West teams. The Lakers are better. The Hornets are better. The Jazz are better. And the Spurs & Mavs are still the Spurs & Mavs. We - we were not better. We were just the same. And I don't buy that being the same was going to get us there.

Not to say that Shaq is a sure thing. It's a gamble. A big gamble. A Big Aristotle sized gamble.

After all these years, we, as Suns fans, find us in the uncomfortable position of rooting for Shaquille O'Neal to lead our team to the promised land.

But I'm willing to believe that it's going to happen.

And it starts tonight.

3 Comments:

  • Riding the coat tail of D Wade doesn't mean Shaq was the contributing factor in the Heat winning. Period.

    But then again, I have no personal interested in the Suns so objectively speaking, I thought it was a bad trade. As long as the fans are happy, I guess that's all that matters. And you're right, it's not like they were a champion team before the trade. I just don't think it's a champion team even after the trade. And if it's not a move to win this year, then it's just an atrocious trade.

    By Blogger Alan aka RecessRampage, At February 21, 2008 at 7:45 AM  

  • Oh and I really hope you're not using ESPN's "experts" as your basis. ESPN.com experts are bunch of morons.

    By Blogger Alan aka RecessRampage, At February 21, 2008 at 7:46 AM  

  • Wade was the difference in the finals, but Shaq was instrumental in getting the Heat there. I do believe he was 2nd in MVP voting that year, so he wasn't exactly "riding the coat tails".

    Most of ESPN's writers hate the trade. The only two that like it so far are Jalen Rose & Bill Simmons. Honestly, I'm embarrassed to be in that company.

    Last night's results weren't that great (132 points given up) but if Shaq is already keeping up & looking healthy, then the adjustment period shouldn't take TOO long, and we'll have a better idea of if this trade's gonna work or not.

    By Blogger Matt, At February 21, 2008 at 8:05 AM  

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