The Big GM: Shaq to Orlando?

578046.jpg

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 rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrich_levine

Tatum easing into new challenge with Celtics

Tatum easing into new challenge with Celtics

BOSTON -- While the newest Boston Celtics were scattered about while at a community service event, 19-year-old Jayson Tatum was sitting in a really comfortable-looking chair, resting. 

The past few weeks have been a whirlwind unlike any he had ever experienced, beginning with the pre-draft process, to workouts, to the draft itself and all the appearances and media engagements that have followed. 

“It’s a lot,” Tatum, grinning, told CSNNE.com. “But I’m taking it one day at a time.”

That steady-as-she-goes approach served him well during his lone season at Duke. 

Keeping an even-keeled approach will bode well for him as he gears up for his first taste of NBA basketball beginning with summer league practice this week in preparation for next week’s summer league action which begins in Salt Lake City. 

Boston’s summer league opener will be July 3 against Philadelphia and the top overall pick Markelle Fultz, at the University of Utah’s Jon M. Huntsman Center.

Tatum, who has not played in a five-on-five game since Duke’s loss to South Carolina in the NCAA tournament, is admittedly excited to get back on the floor this week. 

“I can’t wait,” he said. 

Celtics Nation feels the same way about Tatum, selected with the third overall pick in last week’s NBA draft. 

Although it’s only a preseason game, there will be expectations and with that, possibly some added pressure for Tatum to show he was such a coveted player by the Celtics. 

“That’s why Duke helped me a lot,” he told CSNNE.com. “Duke, the best program in college basketball, we were always on the national spotlight good or bad, whether we were winning or losing. That will help me a lot preparing for the Boston Celtics.”

And like Duke, Tatum will have to fight his way on to the court although he readily admits the challenge is much greater in the NBA. 

“Isaiah Thomas, Jaylen Brown, Jae Crowder . . . we didn’t have those guys at Duke,” Tatum said. “It’s gonna be tough; just try my best and get in where I fit in.”

Tatum said he will at times lean on his more experienced teammates, one of which was a former teammate of his – sort of – in Jaylen Brown. 

“I’ve known Jaylen for a while,” Tatum said. “We played with and against each other in high school at AAU camps. 

Tatum added, “at the AAU camps, sometimes we were on the same team and sometimes we were not.”

While much has been made about how the two are similar, Tatum sees both having strengths that complement, rather than compete, with each other. 

“He’s further along than Jaylen was skill-wise and he’s not as far along as Jaylen physically,” said Danny Ainge, Boston’s president of basketball operations. “Again, he’s 19 years old. I don’t want to put any expectations … I want to give him time to grow. We’ll see. He’ll definitely have a role, get a chance to play. And how well he performs is up to him.”

Tatum’s assessment of his game and Brown’s goes as follows:

“He’s a lot stronger, bigger than me,” Tatum, who is 6-foot-8, 204 pounds, acknowledged. “He’s much more athletic. Offensively, I think that’s what I excel in, being smooth and my ability to score. I can just learn from him, the things that he went through last year.”

One of the things he has already picked up on, is that Brown is a pretty smart – and at times clever – dude. 

Not long after Tatum picked jersey number 11, Brown, who wears number 7, took to social media and came up with a 7-11 theme that has already lead to some pretty snazzy t-shirt designs. 

“I thought it was funny,” Tatum said. “It’s catchy; I like it.”

And the Celtics really like Tatum’s game which has been compared at times to former Celtic great Paul Pierce. 

“I hate to make those comparisons when kids are 19 and let his game evolve into whatever it is,” Ainge said. “The similarity is they have good footwork. They both have really good ways to create space for shots. But the similarity … they’re both very good defensive rebounders. Those are two things that stand out to me with Jayson that are Paul characteristics.”

Tatum knows he’s a long way from being in the same company as Celtic royalty such as Pierce. 

Before then he must first earn minutes on the floor which will not be an easy task. 

But Tatum’s demeanor, much like his game, has seemingly always been a bit more mature than most of his fellow basketball brethren. 

Tatum credits his parents, Justin Tatum and Brandy Cole.

“They raised me to be different, be more mature and stand out above the crowd and be my own person and be comfortable in my skin,” Tatum said. “That’s how I’ve always been.”

BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: How does the Chris Paul trade affect the Celtics?

best_of_bst_podcast.jpg

BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: How does the Chris Paul trade affect the Celtics?

SUBSCRIBE iTunes | Stitcher | RSS

0:41 - Tom Curran, Tom Giles, and Kayce Smith discuss the Rockets acquiring Chris Paul and how that trade can actually have an affect on the Celtics plans.

5:06 - Ian Thomsen joins BST to talk about if the Celtics are the front runners for Paul George, what would be too much to give up to the Pacers, and why it’s important to sign Hayward before trading for George.

11:21 - Evan Drellich joins from Fenway Park to discuss Rick Porcello getting his 10th loss of the season and if the struggling offense might be a season-long problem. 

14:58 - Tom Curran and Kayce Smith give their thoughts on Nate Burleson saying that Julian Edelman is the most under-appreciated receiver in the last 10 years.