Like Sinatra, Shaq did it 'his way'


Like Sinatra, Shaq did it 'his way'

By A.Sherrod Blakely

ORLANDO, Fla. When you look at the many vignettes that form a collage of sorts to Shaquille O'Neal's illustrious NBA career, no one event can truly serve as his defining moment.

But there's one in particular that sticks out not so much for how it defined O'Neal, but rather defined how O'Neal would go about becoming one of the greatest players ever.

Early in his career, he had a shoe deal with Reebok.

They had a number of ideas for commercials.

O'Neal hated them all.

Eventually he convinced them that his idea was the way to go.

"That was the beginning of me doing it my way," O'Neal said in an exclusive one-on-one interview with Comcast SportsNet shortly after announcing his retirement on Friday from the NBA after 19 seasons.

In the commercial, O'Neal included legendary centers such as Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as well as Celtics legends Bill Walton and Bill Russell.

"The reason I put those great centers in there, was because I wanted people to look at me in that light," O'Neal said. "I knew I had big shoes to fill, but I wanted people to say, 'OK, this guy's coming in saying he's going to be with those guys, show me.' That's what I did. I went to work."

Did he ever.

In 19 NBA seasons, only four players (Abdul-Jabbar, Karl Malone, Michael Jordan and Chamberlain) amassed more points than O'Neal who scored 28,596. His 13 seasons of being a 20-point, 10-rebound player is unmatched.

"He was the most dominant big man of his era," Celtics teammate Jermaine O'Neal told "When you talk about the top five or 10 players all-time, Shaquille O'Neal has to be on that list for all that he's accomplished not only when you look at the numbers, but when you look at the championships, too."

O'Neal has won four NBA titles, taking home NBA Finals MVP honors on three such occasions.

If not for a right Achilles injury that limited him to a career-low 37 games this past season with the Celtics, O'Neal would likely be suiting up for a 20th NBA season.

While he has no plans to come out of retirement, O'Neal wouldn't completely shut the idea on the notion, either.

He says he'll "probably not" return to the NBA.

When pressed about it, he said, "I say probably not, you finish the sentence how you want to finish it."

Regardless of whether he continues his iconic lifestyle off the basketball court, the way he goes about doing it won't change.

He'll do it his way.

A. Sherrod Blakely can be reached at Sherrod on Twitter at http:twitter.comsherrodbcsn

Bradley (Achilles) 'felt good' during return to Celtics lineup

Bradley (Achilles) 'felt good' during return to Celtics lineup

WALTHAM, Mass. – As the final horn blew in Boston’s 108-98 win over Charlotte on Monday night, the game was a win-win kind of night for Avery Bradley.

The Celtics (26-15) continue rolling over opponents at the TD Garden, and he played a relatively pain-free 33 minutes in the win.

It was Bradley’s first game back after missing the previous four with a strained right Achilles injury.

And the fact that he was back on the practice floor on Tuesday (be it a light practice, mind you), bodes well for his injury being a thing of the past now.

“I felt good. It wasn’t sore at all in the game,” Bradley said. “I felt I was moving good. After the game I was a little sore and this morning, but otherwise I felt good.”

Despite Boston being 4-1 this season when Bradley doesn’t play, he has immense value to this Celtics team at both ends of the floor.

Offensively he has been Boston’s second-leading scorer most of this season and currently averages a career-high 17.7 points per game along with 6.9 rebounds which is also a career high.

And defensively, Bradley is coming off a season in which he was named to the NBA’s all-Defensive First Team for the first time.

Any questions or concerns about the Achilles affecting his play defensively were put to rest Monday night when he put the defensive clamps on Nicolas Batum who missed nine of his 11 shots from the field while primarily being guarded by Bradley.

Now his offense, that’s another story.

Bradley failed to reach double digits scoring for the first time this season as he missed seven of his nine shots on Monday to finish with just five points.

But part of that had to do with Bradley passing up shots he normally takes, as well as him missing some he normally knocks down.

Considering his lay-off and the rhythm his teammates have been in shooting the ball in his absence, Bradley wisely decided to get his defensive bearings on track and gradually bring his offensive game around. 

“I have to get my (shooting) rhythm back,” said Bradley who is making a career-best 40.9 percent of his 3-pointers this season. “I’m fine. I’m looking forward to tomorrow’s game.”