The list of what-ifs regarding Shaquille O’Neal‘s basketball career could go on and on. What if he had stayed in Orlando? What if he had never left Los Angeles? What if his body hadn’t quite broken down as it has in recent years?
All of those questions may be significant, but in a recent Outside the Lines, O’Neal revealed what may have been the biggest what-if of all.
What if Shaq had met up with Notorious B.I.G. at the Soul Train Awards after-party as expected on the night of Biggie’s murder? Wednesday marks the 14-year anniversary of the rapper’s death.
According to the Boston Herald, O’Neal was ready to go, but fell asleep before meeting up with the legendary rapper.
“I was in my condo. I had on a cold white suit, white hat and all that. I was on my way. I was dressed, ready to go,” O’Neal told ESPN.
“I just fell asleep. I woke up about 4 o’clock from a call from my mother,” Shaq added. “She said ‘Did you go to the party?’ I’m like, ‘No, what’re you talking about?’ She said, ‘You know, your friend was shot and killed.’ And I was like, ‘What?’ So then I hung up with her and called some people and they told me what had happened.”
If O’Neal had been with Biggie, he believes that with his bodyguard, Uncle Jerome, the two could have made a difference.
“I’ve always been a person that’s always been aware of my surroundings,” Shaq explained. “Thank God for Uncle Jerome from law enforcement. He sees everything. He sees everything. He taught me that. He’s always taught me that.”
O’Neal met the rapper, born Christopher Wallace, when he was in Orlando in 1993, and the two recorded a song together.
Chris joined Tom Caron and Steve Buckley and talked about the transition coming from the Senators to the Bruins, how joining the team on a long road trip was beneficial for the team, his thoughts on the atmosphere in the Garden, what his take was about the Black and Gold before the trade and his feelings since the trade, if he believes this Bruins team can take home the Cup, and what Tomas Kaberle brings to the team
Mike joined Tom Caron and Bob Halloran and talked about how happy Bruins fans should be with the 6-0 road trip, the playing time between Tuukka Rask and Tim Thomas, the differences with the Black and Gold since their trades, if he believes the B’s gave up too much for Tomas Kaberle if they don’t re-sign him, his thoughts on if the Bruins playing tough and taking it to another level, and where he ranks the B’s in the Eastern Conference
Kevin joined TC and Buck and discussed if the Bruins could be making any more moves before the trade deadline, the building blocks with the Black and Gold, Cam Neely’s role in the Bruins organization, and if it bothers him that Zdeno Chara has never won a Game 7 in the playoffs
According to ESPN.com, which cited “a source close to the situation,” point guard Mike Bibby is “headed to Miami” once he clears waivers following his agreement to a buyout with the Wizards. Bibby’s agent, David Falk, told the website that he had been in touch with several teams and that nothing could be done until after the 32-year-old clears waivers, but the report suggested that Bibby had already made the decision to join Miami, where he could see significant minutes for a Heat team with title hopes.
Bibby walked away from a $6.2 million salary in the 2011-12 season as part of the buyout in order to pursue a championship this year. The Celtics were reportedly among the teams interested in the veteran, though with Rajon Rondo entrenched as the primary point guard, it would appear that other contenders (including the Heat) could offer the 13-year veteran more playing time.
In 58 games this year, Bibby is averaging 9.1 points and 3.6 assists a night while logging just under 30 minutes per contest.
With 6:05 remaining in the fourth quarter of the Celtics’ emotional Thursday night tilt with the Denver Nuggets, Paul Pierce stepped up and drilled a 25-footer from the wing, putting the C’s up 75-73. They were on the verge of their biggest win of the season, absolutely, without question.
Forget opening night against the Heat. Forget the return to the Staples Center. Forget the Spurs, the Bulls, the Magic, forget everyone else. If the C’s had pulled this one off, in the face of everything they’d been through Thursday, this would have been the victory of the century.
But in that final 6:05, the Nuggets tore the Celtics to shreds, going on a 16-0 run down the stretch.
On Thursday afternoon, the Celtics were devastated by the loss of Kendrick Perkins, not to mention the additional wheeling and dealing that sent away Nate Robinson, Marquis Daniels, Semih Erden and Luke Harangody.
The loss Thursday night was pretty bad, too.
The most likely explanation? Pretty simple — the Celtics were playing with basically an eight-man rotation, and down the stretch, those eight men ran out of gas.
“I don’t know,” coach Doc Rivers said after the 89-75 loss at the Pepsi Center. “It looked like that. I wasn’t really happy with what we ran down the stretch of the game. We walked into a lot of sets, and that might have been fatigue. But we try to start our offense with 18 or 19 [seconds] on the [shot] clock. We started it six or seven times in a row in that stretch under eight. It’s tough to run your offense with eight seconds on the clock.
“It could have been [fatigue]. It very well could have been.”
Understandable, given the circumstances. The Celtics were four bodies short on Thursday night, with Jeff Green and Nenad Krstic still en route from Oklahoma City and two O’Neals still back home resting injuries. The Nuggets saw a weakened Celtics squad late in the game, and they went for the kill.
First they strung a few stops together to stay within striking distance; then Wilson Chandler nailed a 3 to give them the lead. From there, it was on. The Nuggets kept running up and down the floor — their depth had been bolstered by this week’s trade to bring in four former Knicks, and they took advantage. They had fresh bodies with fresh legs, and that made the difference in the game.
“They scored, which we didn’t like, and we couldn’t score,” Rivers said. “We didn’t get good shots for the most part down the stretch. We went all the way down to the end of the clock and took pretty bad, pretty forced shots. Our whole thing was try to keep it close and then see if we could win it at the end. We did [keep it close], but then we couldn’t get anything going at the end.”
This funk will eventually pass. Thursday night was a unique circumstance — the C’s were shocked by the Perkins trade to Oklahoma City, they were shorthanded and tired, and beating the Nuggets was probably the last thing on their mind. The Celtics are professionals, and they’ll regain their focus in due time.
It might not be quick, though. The Celtics were pained to lose their longtime center, and coping isn’t easy.
“They love him,” Rivers said. “It’s very personal. Perk was a family member. He was more than just a player for us. When you lose a family member like that, it hurts. It’s emotional. And that’s how the guys are — they understand the trade and all that stuff, but that still doesn’t mean it’s not emotional for them.”
Sometimes emotion can be channeled into a big win. That was the plan Thursday night, but it didn’t pan out.
It will take the Celtics some time to move on from losing Kendrick Perkins, but in the meantime, they’ll have to find a way to win some basketball games.