Envy places Shaq in Boston

JOHN MCMULLEN, Sports Network

, Last Updated: 1:39 PM ET

PHILADELPHIA -- I must admit that I chuckled more than a little bit when I saw some Boston-area writers proclaim that The Big Three in Beantown is now an oversized Big Four after Shaquille O'Neal agreed to terms with the Celtics on Wednesday.

Maybe if this was 2006, the last year Shaq scored over 20 points a game and showed at least the slightest of movement skills to show on the pick-and-roll.

What the Celtics signed earlier this week was an overweight journeyman that can't play defense, slows down your offense and is still obsessed with his former teammate Kobe Bryant.

O'Neal was on top of the world back in '06 when he teamed with Dwyane Wade in South Beach to win his first and only Kobe-free championship. Since Shaq had the championship pedigree and Wade was an emerging superstar at the time, most pundits gave O'Neal the starring role in the championship duo, even though Wade was clearly the go-to-guy and the straw that stirred the drink.

It was the same dynamic in Los Angeles. O'Neal and his larger-than-life personality also got more credit than the often brooding Bryant, even though Kobe had clearly surpassed him as a player.

It fostered jealously in Bryant, the kind of envy that wasn't repaired until Bryant exorcised his Shaq demon when the Lakers topped Orlando in the NBA Finals during the 2008-09 season.

A year later Kobe and his Lakers disposed of the their biggest rival, the Celtics, in the Finals and all of a sudden Bryant had more championships than O'Neal while still at the top of his game with the ability and complementary firepower to add even more.

Perhaps that's why O'Neal signed a two-year deal for a paltry $3 million to play for his fourth team in five years, those same Celtics.

Shaq is traveling from city to city, hoping to find a talented enough team to match up with his nemesis. Last year it was LeBron and Cleveland, and this year it's the team that took the Lakers to seven games without having O'Neal playing 20 minutes a night in the pivot.

"I am honoured to be joining the Celtics," Shaq said in a statement released by the team. "I have played against Paul (Pierce), Ray (Allen), Kevin (Garnett), Rajon (Rondo), and Jermaine (O'Neal) for many years and it will be great to be able to call them my teammates. I cannot wait to get to Boston to get started in pursuit of another championship."

A 15-time All-Star, Shaq has made over $290 million dollars in his NBA career and that number doesn't include endorsements or those hefty royalty checks from Blue Chips and Scary Movie 4. Unless the big man has hired Scottie Pippen's accountant, he should have plenty of ducats left while Kazaam 2 remains in pre-production.

So why is the 7-foot-1, 325-pound centre sullying a brilliant career by touring the country as a role player?

Simple -- you can't be envious and happy at the same time.

Clearly Shaq wants to finish things by playing on the parquet floor underneath 17 championship banners with the intent of garnering No. 18 before Bryant and the Lakers can do the same.


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