The Big GM: Shaq to Orlando?


The Big GM: Shaq to Orlando?

Yesterday afternoon, Shaquille ONeal released a statement claiming that he had turned down an opportunity to interview for the Orlando Magics vacant general manager position.

Well, I have it on authority that Shaq was lying. In fact, he did interview for the job on Thursday morning in a suite at Orlandos Disney Yacht Club Resort.

Magic chairman Dan DeVos was pulled away at the last second on urgent business, so he sent CEO Alex Martins and Senior Vice President Pat Williams to handle the interview.

If you guys think hes worthy, DeVos told them, Ill fly back for a second meeting.

The interview was set for 10 am.

Here's how it all played out:

(Shaq walks in at 10:15, wearing a big smile and a novelty Goofy hat.)
Shaq: Well, well. The great Pat Williams. The man who brought me into the league

(Williams reluctantly shakes ONeals hand)

Williams: Shaquille ONeal, the man who stabbed an entire city in the back

(There's a brief, awkward silence)

Shaq, Dan DeVos unfortunately couldnt make it. He sends his deepest apologies. And you know our CEO Alex Mart

(Martins grabs O'Neal's hand)

Martins: Mr. ONeal, great to see you again. Really looking forward to this conversation. And if you dont mind me saying: The Goofy bit? Fantastic!

Shaq: Thanks, Alex. Im very excited for the chance to serve the great community of Orlando. And please, Mr. ONeal was my father. You can call me: The Big Goof Troop.
Martins: (laughing hysterically) You get a load of this guy, Pat? Hey, can I get either of you something to drink before we start? Coffee? Soda? Glass of scotch?

Williams: Were OK, Alex.

Martins: Shaq, you sure? Just one glass?

ONeal: Im straight, Alex. I don't drink booze. Only Shaqahol.

Martins: (Hysterical laughter)

Williams: Shaq, we appreciate you coming in today. We know it's a crazy time of year, and we dont want this to take any longer than it has to, so Alex and I are going alternate asking you a few questions. Just to get a feel for where you stand on things. Then well break, bring Mr. DeVos up to speed and move on from there. Should we get started?

Shaq: Let's do it, fellas. Im all EARS!

(He starts jiggling his floppy Goofy ears. Martins spits coffee all over the table.)

Williams: OK. Well obviously you know the biggest problem facing our organization: What are we going to do about Dwight Howard? But before we get there, just for some perspective, tell me how you think weve handled his situation so far. Would you have done it differently? What would you have changed? Have you forgiven yourself for brutally crippling this franchise in 1996?

Shaq: Good one, Pat. But seriously, Im glad you asked about Dwight. The way I see it, in Dwight Howard you have a guy whos just trying to be me. You have a guy whos trying to call himself Superman. Whos trying to fake the funk on something I already dunked. And thats weak. That's what I like to call "fake toughness." People want to say that hes the most dominant big man in our league, but we all know thats just because there arent any big men of MY caliber. So um, yeah. Thats pretty much what Id do differently.

Williams: OK, but that doesnt really answer the ques

Martins: Easy there, Pat! That counts as a question. My turn now. Shaq, heres what I want to know: What was it like working with Nick Nolte in Blue Chips?

Shaq: Oh, you mean, two-time Shaqademy Award winner Nick Nolte?

Martins: Aha! I knew it! Cool dude?

Shaq: Nick Nolte is a legend. A great, great man.

Martins: Boom!

(He throws ONeal a fist bump)

All right. Back to you, Pat.

Williams: Umm OK. Shaq, I understand that you and Dwight havent always had the best relationship, but I should tell you that if we bring you on board, it would be with the expectation that you and him can work together. You see, weve already been screwed over by one seven-foot egomaniac, and were not ready to go through that again. That being said, were also realists. If Dwight ultimately wants out, well have to give him an out. So, put on your GM hat for a second

Martins: Nah, stick with the Goofy one!

Williams: Shaq, Im sorry about him. Please, just put on your GM hat, and pretend Im the GM of another team in the league. Any team. Your choice. Now I want you to give me a call and pitch a legitimate trade offer for Dwight Howard. Who do you think we can get? What do you think we need? How do you sleep at night? And action!

Shaq: OK, OK. We can do this.

(Speaking into an imaginary phone)

Hello, operator. Can you please connect me to Mitch Kupchaks office

(He winks at Williams)

Williams: Ring, ring. Hello, this is Mitch Kupchak.

Shaq: Mitch, this is Shaquille ONeal, the new GM of the Orlando Magic. How are you today?
Williams: Oh, hey there, Shaq. Hope all is well. Let me guess, youre calling about Dwight Howard?'
Shaq: Actually, no. Im just calling to say: Look at me now, bitch! Have fun rebuilding SUCKAAAAA!!!

(Shaq slams down the fake phone and high fives a cackling Martins. Williams is stunned)
Martins: All right, Shaq. Question No. 2 from me. Its a little personal, but I figure if were going to be working together

Would you mind signing this Kazaam poster for my son? Hes a huge fan.
Shaq: Oh, of course. Hand it over and I'll give it the old Shaq Hancock.
Martins: Ha!
Shaq: Whats your boy's name?
Martins: Alex.
Shaq: Alex Jr.?
Martins: Nope Just Alex. Pat?

(Williams is shaking his head. Beyond frustrated)
Williams: OK, last question from me: We need a coach. Any suggestions?
Shaq: Well, Pat. As you know, I had the pleasure of playing for many legendary coaches over my career. The great Dale Brown. The great Phil Jackson. The great Pat Riley. And they all played an integral role in me becoming the most complete, dominant and devastating big man of all time. But honestly, you can't help but wonder how different their legacies might have been if they'd never had the chance to coach Shaquille O'Neal I'll just leave at that.

Williams: Thank you, Shaq. That was enlightening. Anything else, Alex?

Martins: Me? Oh, I've heard enough. And I think I speak for the entire Magic organization when I say: Shaquille O'Neal, it has been a pleasure. You'll be hearing from us very soon.

(They all stand up, shake hands and Shaq leaves the room)

Martins: Soooo, pretty great, right?

(Williams gets up, pours himself a glass of scotch and walks away without saying a word. Martins, unaffected, leans back in his chair and takes a long, satisfying sip of coffee.)

The Big Goof Troop Ha!

Rich can be reached at Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrich_levine

Celtics' team plane receives bomb threat


Celtics' team plane receives bomb threat

BOSTON -- There was a bomb threat to the Boston Celtics’ team plane to Oklahoma City on Saturday afternoon, but no one was injured.

The incident will be investigated by NBA security which will work in conjunction with the FBI on this matter which was one of several hoaxes called into airports across the country on Saturday.

News of the bomb threat was first known when Celtics forward Jae Crowder posted an Instagram photo showing players departing the plane with the caption, “BOMB THREAT ON US”.

Celtics officials declined to comment on the matter and instead referred all bomb threat-related questions to the league office.

Messages to the league office were not immediately returned.

Celtics' ball movement among NBA's best, with or without Thomas

Celtics' ball movement among NBA's best, with or without Thomas

BOSTON – When it comes to winning basketball, keep it moving – the ball that is – has become a staple of the Celtics this season. 
And lately they’ve had to do it without Isaiah Thomas, the team’s leading scorer at 26 points per game as well as their top assists guy (6.2) who will miss hish third game in a row Sunday in Oklahoma City because of a right groin injury.
The Celtics have split their first two games without Thomas, with the most recent being a 101-94 home loss to Toronto on Friday.
When it comes to this team and ball movement, fans are just as divided when it pertains to whether the Celtics move the ball better without the high-scoring Thomas in the lineup. 
Regardless of what fans think they know about this team and how they move the ball, the numbers paint a very clear picture that this team’s ball movement is among the best in the NBA, with or without Thomas in the lineup. 

And that will be important on Sunday against an Oklahoma City team that doesn’t rely on the ball swinging from one side of the floor to the other, nearly as much as the Celtics. 
The Thunder, led by MVP candidate Russell Westbrook, are dead-last in the NBA when it comes to passes made per game (267.1). 
Meanwhile, the Celtics are at the opposite end of the passing game spectrum, averaging 331.7 passes per game, which is second in the NBA (Philadelphia, 354.3).
And in the two games without Thomas, Boston has averaged 347.0 passes per game, which ranks second in the NBA in that period of time. 
In addition to missing his points and assists, the Celtics must also find ways to make plays in filling the void left by a player who has the ball in his hands a lot of the time. 
Thomas’ usage percentage (percentage of plays used by a player while he’s on the floor) of 32.9 percent ranks seventh in the NBA, ahead of notable stars such as San Antonio’s Kawhi Leonard (30.9 percent), Portland’s Damian Lillard (30.8 percent), New York’s Carmelo Anthony (29.5 percent), as well as Cleveland’s LeBron James (29 percent) and Golden State’s back-to-back NBA MVP Stephen Curry (28.2 percent).
So, considering how involved Thomas has been in the team’s offense, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the numbers in terms of passing and ball movement are better without him than they are when he’s on the floor playing. 
What should be surprising is that the gap statistically without him, isn’t greater. 
Boston has been a top five team when it comes to assists this season, currently third in the league with 24.7 assists per game. In the past two games without Thomas, the Celtics’ assists numbers have risen to 26.5 per game, but that only ranks fifth in the league in that span.
When it comes to potential assists and secondary assists (a.k.a. the “hockey” assist), Boston’s numbers have improved slightly without Thomas as well, but in each category Boston is ranked second in the league. 
And that ranking is with, and without Thomas in the lineup. 
While it’s not clear if Thomas knows just how close the numbers in terms of ball movement are with and without him playing, he is acutely aware that there are some who believe they are a better team in terms of keeping the ball moving without him.
“I can’t control that,” Thomas told reporters on Friday. “At this point, I laugh about it. I know what I mean to my teammates. I know what I mean to this organization, to Brad Stevens.”