Last evening, Dwyane Wade appeared on “The Tonight Show” with Jay Leno and had a rather interesting prop with him.
When asked by Jay if there was one player he’d like to see in Miami, Wade replied “I was thinking of one guy I really wanted, and since they say I’m a recruiter, I thought I’d do a little recruiting out here in L.A.”
Wade then proceeded to take out a No. 32 jersey. The jersey had the name Leno on a piece of tape. I was then expecting him to pull it off and show O’Neal beneath it.
Instead, it said (Don) Rickles. Rickles is a legendary comedian that was also on the show and sitting next to Wade.
It wasn’t a huge thing then, but something still struck me as odd. Why Shaq’s old number? Wade could have brought any jersey with him. He could’ve given ANY number, and he chose O’Neal’s.
The way I see it, nothing is done accidentally. So this was either a very subtle jab at Shaq, perhaps a way of saying “Hey, we can have two old white guys take your spot. Then again it could’ve been an olive branch directed at the “Big Diesel.”
Wade, Riley, and the Heat organization have plenty of reasons to be upset with the big fella. On his way out of Miami, Shaq ripped the Heat trainers and medical staff along with Riley. He had also shown disrespect to Dwyane himself.
O’Neal had at one time referred to Chris Bosh “as the Rupaul” of NBA big men. This on top of calling Wade “Wonder Boy”. Did he ever say anything about LeBron?
Shaq has always had a larger than life persona. At times, he could appear to be the funniest and coolest guy around. Other times, he just seems to be a malcontent egocentric jack a**.
So then what of a possible reunion? The Heat have four centers on the roster already. Would they really invite a fifth to training camp?
In O’Neal, Miami would get a basketball giant that is well past his prime. Still, much should be said about how Shaq’s presence would improve this team.
With O’Neal in the middle, Miami would have a big man still capable of commanding double teams. That’s a scary scenario for opponents because it means they would be leaving either a Wade, LeBron James, or Chris Bosh unguarded.
Another more important factor is O’Neal’s ability to make good passes. He could post up, receive the ball, and then hold it until Wade or James are able to make a cut to the basket for an easy dish and dunk.
Lastly, O’Neal, while nowhere near the athlete he once was, can still match up physically with any center in the NBA. Having him in the paint would be a beneficial asset for the Heat.
Now you can decide for yourselves if the jersey number was just a coincidence.
One thing that is certain is that Shaquille would have to eat a big slice of humble pie to rejoin Miami. First, he would have to sacrifice about four million dollars to take Miami’s veteran minimum. Then he would be expected to come out and make a public apology to the entire Heat organization.
Can you really see Shaq doing either of those things?
Perhaps we might. I believe that it has to be stinging Shaq to see Kobe Bryant sitting there with five rings to his four. He surely understands that this is his very best chance at winning one or two more rings before retiring in to the sunset.
What Miami would want is a more mature and humbler Shaq. Do you believe he could ever be that?
Last season, before a game in Miami, a reporter went up to O’Neal and asked him how he was doing. Shaq replied “getting older.” That seems to hint of a person who is coming to terms with father time.
For all his dominance over nearly two decades of basketball, Shaq may finally be realizing that he needs others’ help more than they need his.
Then again just three years ago, he was asking Kobe “tell me how my” rectum “tastes?”
Heat fans could only wish that he would acknowledge the error of his ways and convince Riley to give him a shot as a role player with Miami. For if he did, the Heat would take yet another big step toward the first of many potential NBA titles.
The most important part of this whole equation is Shaq. Can he finally begin to act and think like all those great centers of the past that he admires? Will he care enough to dedicate himself for an entire season? Does he really want to beat Kobe?
Those are a few of the many questions worth debating.