Forget Shaquille O'Neal's dominant on-court performance.
Last night, after a ho-hum 33-point, 18-rebound outing in the Miami Heat's 111-96 win over the Raptors at the Air Canada Centre, everybody wanted to know why the Big Fella was carrying Ontario Provincial Police patches.
"I was walking in my big fur coat (Tuesday) and the (police) thought I was Sasquatch," Shaq said. "They tackled me and took me to the police station. I told them I wouldn't press charges if they gave me a couple of patches."
That story was fiction, of course. Too bad for the Raptors. Anything that could have rattled O'Neal last night would have helped the Raptors, who used six different players to try to contain Shaq.
Yet, as great as he was, Shaq actually said he was "pissed off" for making only seven of 20 free throws. He said he should have scored 50 points.
"I missed 13 free throws and that's unacceptable," said O'Neal, who drew lane violations on three free throw attempts as the Raptors anticipated misses. "If I want to be accepted by Wilt and Kareem and (Bill) Russell, I've got to start playing better than that. Right now, I'm still in a class with Hakeem and David Robinson. That's not good enough for me. I want to be up there with the immortals."
The Raptors didn't double-team O'Neal all the time, but Heat coach Stan Van Gundy defended Toronto counterpart Sam Mitchell.
"There are a lot of different theories on how to play Shaq and none of them are foolproof," Van Gundy said. "He's a difficult guy to stop. It's like saying somebody's got an answer to Tim Duncan, Allen Iverson or Kobe Bryant, it doesn't exist ... There's a reason Shaq gets 33 and 18 and the reason is he's the dominant big man in the league. It's not that Sam Mitchell didn't know what he was doing."
The Eastern Conference-leading Heat, just 5-5 in their past 10 entering last night, snapped Toronto's five-game home winning streak.
"To come in here and win by 15, I think it's one of our best wins of the year to be honest," Van Gundy said.
Meanwhile, the Heat raised eyebrows yesterday when they signed ex-Portland Trail Blazers bad boy Qyntel Woods.
The 6-foot-8 forward, who pled guilty to first-degree misdemeanour animal abuse last week and was given 12 months probation and 80 hours of community service, was released by the Blazers an hour after his court hearing.