More Mailbag!

Darius Soriano —  July 17, 2010

Los Angeles Laker Pau Gasol smiles during a team practice at the 2010 NBA Finals basketball series in Boston, Massachusetts June 12, 2010. The 2010 NBA Finals resumes June 13 when the Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers meet in Game 5 in Boston, Massachusetts June 12, 2010.  REUTERS/Adam Hunger (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)

Since I had so much fun answering the last set of questions that came in, here are a few more that were collecting dust in my inbox that I’ll drop my two cents on.  Again, if you’d like to send in a question (or more) for a future installment of the mailbag, click here and fire away.  Here we go…

The Lakers have been blessed w/ some of the best centers (Kareem, Wilt, Shaq, Mikan) to ever play the game. 2 of the top 3 two guards (Kobe & West). The best point guard in history in Magic. And hall of famers (top 50 all-time mo less) at small forward in Baylor & Worthy. However when it comes to the 4 spot, the power forward, our all time best read like this: post prime Bob MacAdoo; super sub Robert Horry; solid role players Happy Hairston, A. C. Green, Kurt Rambis, Rudy LaRusso; early era Vern Mikkelson; Clyde Lovellette anyone?  Yes I know Pau also plays the 5 spot, however as Andrew Bynum (boy would I love to one day include him on the all-time Laker great centers) continues to blossom, Pau will spend more time at the 4 spot.  I’ve been a Laker fan most of my life, since 1965, as a young lad of 13. Given all of that the question remains: is Pau Gasol the BEST POWER FORWARD to ever play for the Lakers?

-Big City Sid

This is an interesting question because as you point out, the Lakers have been blessed to have some all time greats at every other position save PF.  When I’ve built the All-Time Lakers team in my mind, I’ve often cheated and slid Baylor up or moved Kareem down to PF to fit in guys like Shaq or Kobe (or West) and make sure they made the team.  That said, Gasol is quickly earning a place on this list as all-time Laker and could easily be seen as the best PF to ever play for the franchise considering his talent level and what he’s accomplished so far.  I mean, in his three seasons with the Lakers he’s been a major contributor to a team that’s been to 3 NBA Finals and won 2 championships.  In the past two playoffs, he’s stepped up his game in a major way and had some huge games in contests that were quite important.  In the most recent NBA Finals against the Celtics, many pundits touted him as the MVP of the series as he had some very strong games both scoring and rebounding and averaged 2 blocks a game (with a high of 6 in game two).  The man has clearly established himself as one of the top players in the league and I happen to think that he’s the most complete big man in the game when you consider all facets to his game.  So at this point, I’d have to say yes – Pau Gasol is the best PF to ever play for the Lakers.

Do you think that the higher than anticipated cap will make the Lakers more bold in pursuing free agents like Matt Barnes and Raja Bell or will it just be used to lessen the distance between the Lakers and Fisher in their quest to make a deal?

-Arta

I don’t think the higher cap will influence the Lakers spending this off-season.  Because even though the cap is higher by a a couple of million dollars, the Luxury Tax threshold only went up by $500K.  So really, the Lakers aren’t looking at any significant savings when looking to bolster their roster.  I mean, the Lakers paid the highest luxury tax bill out of every team this past season ($21.43 million) and because the tax threshold stayed relatively flat, I don’t think the higher cap means much.  However, Dr. Buss has shown that he’s very much willing to spend money when building a championship team and he’s allowed Mitch Kupchak to offer the types of contracts that lure players to LA in hopes of winning that elusive ring.  So, whether it’s Raja Bell or some other role player, I think the Lakers will still look to fill out its roster with quality players and that they’ll spend in line with what they did last season.  And to summarize the Lakers payroll/cap situation right now, there is (approximately) 81.7 million allocated to Kobe, Gasol, Bynum, Odom, Artest, Sasha, and Walton for next season.  Reports have been that Steve Blake signed a contract that will pay him 4 million a season for 4 years and that Fisher’s deal will pay him 3 million a year for 3 years.  That would put the Lakers payroll at nearly 89 million for 9 players.  When you add in rookie contracts (say, 1 million combined for both rookies next season) that pushes the total to 90 million.  Also note that the Lakers have 1.75 million remaining of their mid level exception and will likely look to sign at least one veteran big man at the mininum (an amount that will vary based off the service time of the player). If the team spends the rest of the MLE and does sign a veteran for, say 1.3 million, that would push the Lakers’ payroll up to approximately 92 million.  A number that compares to last season’s 91.4 million.

Do you feel signing Kyle Korver and Lou Amundson would be a great addition for the back to back defending champions?  I feel the Lakers need a solid 3 point shooter who can come off the bench when Kobe sits down and I feel Sasha hasn’t been as consistent as we had hoped.  Korver is a hard worker who has a great shot and plays good defense.  Secondly, I feel Amundson would be a perfect fit in purple and gold.  A shot blocker, high energy player coming off the bench has always been a huge hit in Los Angeles.  Turiaf and Madson are examples of that.  Do you feel there are two better players for the money the Lakers could acquire this off-season.

-Buck

Even though Kyle Korver has been signed by the Bulls, I posted this question because I think it speaks to the remaining Lakers needs quite nicely.  I still think another shooter and another big man that could defend and rebound – even if they’re only asked to play limited minutes – are a must.  If looking for an effort/energy big off the bench, I’m actually hopeful that second round pick Derick Caracter can provide that spark.  We’ve recently touched on his progress shown in Summer League, but he’s shown good rebounding instincts and has been very active in the games that I’ve seen.   Not to say that I don’t like Amundson, but he’s a bit undersized for the Lakers and lacks some of the polish that the Lakers like in their PF’s.  He’s got a questionable jump shot and is most effective as a screener in the P&R and a guy that fills the lane in the open court while crashing the class in the half court.  So in the end, I don’t like him as much for the Lakers system.  So if the Lakers are still looking to grab an additional big man for their roster – as I believe they are because they can’t just rely on Caracter – the usual names of  Kurt Thomas, Joe Smith, Craig Smith, Nesterovich, Brad Miller, etc are all still out there.  I see some of those guys as better fits than others, but as a 4th or 5th big that won’t see too many minutes you could do a lot worse than any of those guys.  As for the shooter, I was hopeful the Lakers could sign Raja Bell to fill that role.  Unfortunately (at least in my eyes) he signed a more lucrative contract to go back to the Jazz and the Lakers may now look to fill their open spot on the wing by bringing back Shannon Brown.  Brown may not fill the role as a long range threat, but he does have the athleticism that many fans crave for this team, has shown improvement in his jump shot, and now has nearly two years of system knowledge that goes a long way in determining playing time.  If looking for a shooter though, a name that is still out there is Rasual Butler.  While not necessarily a player in the Redick mold (career 3 point FG% is 36.3%), Butler shot 39% the season before last and is a guy that I’ve always thought of as a gamer – though that’s probably influenced by some of the big shots he hit while with the Hornets.  Other “shooters” that are still available as free agents are Eddie House and Roger Mason Jr., but House is really a PG (not a lot of minutes at that spot after Fish/Blake) and Mason is really a SG that had quite the down year last season.  So, I wonder if any of these options are really better than Brown.

I truly value Lamar’s role on the team, I want us to keep him for the length of his contract and if he’ll eat more broccoli instead of candy, the sky is the limit.  But I still have these concerns: why does he get so many frustrating, momentum-swinging charges, why does he throw the ball away on so many length of the court passes, and why does he miss so many key defensive rotations late in games to allow dagger open threes? And don’t the coaches work with him on this?

-Mike

Another relevant topic after Jeff’s recent player review on LO.  Many who follow this site know that I’ve been one of Odom’s biggest supporters over the last few years and while I understand the frustration with some aspects of his game, I think fans need to adjust and appreciate Odom for what he does well rather than nitpick the things he doesn’t or focus too much on his mistakes.  That said, while I think some of faults pointed out are exaggerated, I do recognize his flaws as a player.  Odom is the type of ball handler that doesn’t change direction well when he’s made up his mind – hence the charges.  And since penetrating to either create a shot for himself or a teammate is such a big part of his game, I think we see this more often with him than we do with other players.  I also think he’s a player that is consistently looking for the play that gives the Lakers a true advantage (it’s one of the traits that makes him a play maker in the Triangle) and it’s why he’s always looking up-court for the “homerun” pass that will get the Lakers a quick bucket – a play that works a fair amount too, by the way. As for the defensive lapses, I think Odom’s natural instinct is to protect against the drive and hence the leaving of shooters behind the arc.  However this same instinct to help is what made Odom such a natural fit for the strong side zone scheme the Lakers employed during their 2009 title run.  His ability to recognize the penetration (as well as his ability to recover back to the weak side after showing help on the strong side) by using his length and defensive range was vital to this scheme and it was all aided by his desire to be a helper in a way that maximizes his skills.

This isn’t to make excuses for Odom as I’m often frustrated by these same flaws in his game.  However, when looking at LO objectively and in the big picture, I can think of few big men that would fit on this particular Lakers team better.  Odom is a player that moves well off the ball and thus can take advantage of the attention that Pau, Kobe, and Bynum draw.  He’s a very good rebounder and is excellent at turning defensive rebounds into transition baskets going the other way.  He’s a “stretch PF” that has a play making mentality and it allows him to be an offensive initiator while also giving space to the Lakers main offensive threats to operate.  Not to mention he’s the consumate team player that consistently looks to make the play that helps his mates, doesn’t have an ego that demands that he get a ton of credit, and is always preaching that the team needs to play the right way in order to be successful.  He could easily be a starter on countless other teams but he accepts his role on this team and helps it win at the highest level.  I can understand that others want a more consistent player and that Odom’s game can be the personification of an up and down season where the highs are fantastic and the lows are frustrating.  However, I think we can all agree that he helps this team a great deal and that his presence has helped earn back to back championships.  And for that, I’m very grateful to my favorite candy eating southpaw.

Certainly Ron Artest’s effect on the Laker defense was substantial – the proof is in the product.  Would you say the improvement in our defense was more manifested in a) Artest’s individual defense vs. Ariza/Walton/VladRad (in descending order) or b) his ability to make his teammate’s defend better in terms of establishing a defense-oriented mindset and setting an example or others to follow?

-kehntangibles

I would say it’s more a product of Artest’s individual defense and, specifically, the type of defender that he was.  Obviously Walton and RadMan weren’t what we’d call good defenders so we’ll leave them out of the discussion.  However, Ariza was a good defender, but his expertise came more in the form of ball denials, anticipation in the passing lanes, and an on ball defender in the P&R (remember his performance against Turkoglu in the 2009 Finals).  But, Artest is a different type of defender and one that is better suited to consistently producing stops in the half court.  Ron’s strength allowed him to push offensive players further from the hoop when making the catch.  His quick hands meant that the Lakers got more deflections and on ball steals.  His bigger body meant that players could not as easily drive by him without getting knocked off their dribble while his long reach was able to produce a lot of steals with his poke away move when offensive players actually did get by him.  So, I would say that his more well rounded defensive game served the Lakers very well over the course of the season and that compared to his predecessors, the improvement that Artest offered correlated to better team success.

I should add, though, that a healthy and more-committed-to-defense Bynum also helped the Lakers defense a great deal.  After playing in only 50 games in the 2009 season (while returning for the playoffs), Bynum played in 65 contests this season and was definitely more focussed on protecting the paint than he’s been in the past.  So, when you combine the presence of Bynum paired with Gasol and add a defender of Artest’s quality, I think the results are the top 5 defensive outfit the Lakers were able to field this past season.

Darius Soriano

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37 responses to More Mailbag!

  1. Do you feel. With everybody hatinfg the lakers as players that you all have a much better team. Everyone is talking about miami on how they have lebron does that make a different or what

  2. One thing that cannot be understated about Odom is how important he is to the Lakers as a ballhandler. Fisher is not quick enough to deal with full-court man-to-man pressure applied by, say , Westbrook, Paul, or Rondo. Watching D.Fish dribble up court against pressure is heart-attack-inducing. So often, the Lakers just toss it to Odom to bring it up. Having Blake aboard probably won’t change Odom’s responsibilities much either.

  3. Here’s a good read for anyone who’s relatively new to the FB&G and the online community as a whole.

    http://blogs.thescore.com/tbj/2010/07/16/eleven-types-of-obnoxious-basketball-fans-on-the-internet/

    Don’t be one of those people.

  4. thisisweaksauce July 17, 2010 at 12:31 pm

    Darius,

    How do you get in the mailbag? Is there an e-mail address to which we can send our question?

  5. thisisweaksauce July 17, 2010 at 12:37 pm

    Darius,

    Any other wings/small forwards we could go for, in terms of shooters? I hear that the Spurs are going for James Jones with a budget around 2.3 mil. Maybe he can sign for a legit chance at a ring for 1.8 mil? Anyone else? I would love a knock down shooter, as would many other Lakers fans, I think.

  6. Loving the mailbag feature.

    One thing I wanted to add about Artest, which may not exactly relate to his defensive prowess, is the way he got tangled up with Pierce less than 30 seconds into Game 1 of the Finals and during Game 7 as well. That was a very effective way of playing the enforcer and sending the message: “This isn’t 2008.” And, without getting suspended for half the season!

  7. ReignOnParades July 17, 2010 at 1:20 pm

    100% with you on Rasual Butler. We talked about him in the comments of the Caracter/Ebanks thread and as I said, he was the best wing player on the Hornets with the minor disclaimer that the Hornets haven’t had any good wing players worth talking about other than the 10 times a year Peja breaks out the vintage play, and Thornton.

    He can hit the 3 (and is NOT afraid to shoot) and he’s a 2/3 which is more useful to us than a 1/2 right now (Sorry ShanWOW, you know I still love you) and surprised me with dunks here and there.

    Most importantly there’s the potential for cool nicknames like Ra’s al Butler, although only comic book fans would get that one

  8. #4. You can click the “send me email” link in the right hand side bar and send me a question. In the subject line of the message, just put “mailbag question”. I’ll try to do one of these every 2-4 weeks depending on the volume of questions and how the questions fit with what’s going on with the team.

    #7. Will he then call Kobe “the detective”?

  9. Check out my thoughts on the sale of the Warriors and my Charles Oakley rankings

  10. >hence the leaving of shooters behind the arc.

    thank you Darius – calling the 3-point line the
    “arch” is one of those pet peeves that sets my teeth on edge. I’m well aware that this sort of pet needs to be kept leashed and under strict control, but this one always makes me wince, even if it’s a “mute” point.

  11. great answers darius. and not just because i agree with all of them. now all we need to do is hire you a comedy writer to punch up some jokes. i wonder if bill simmons would consider.

  12. PFs: won’t claim he’s best, but a shout out to Kermit Washington, and his desire, toughness and impressive arc(h) of improvement … until The Punch derailed his trajectory.

  13. To the PF list I’d add guest appearances by Jim Chones, Maurice Lucas, Orlando Woolridge, and Spencer Haywood.

    Also, how can we forget Mychal Thompson, who contributed so well to the first LA-era repeat squads?

  14. i’d prefer the lakers use the remaining MLE to sign caracter and ebanks up to 4 yr deals starting at 850K, like the spurs did with dejuan blair, and the kings did with hassan whiteside.

    look at what the blazers did to the jazz with wes matthews. the lakers can’t afford to match and lose out on nice prospects.

  15. adding Sam Perkins

  16. OK, question for you all since before Pau, our PF spot had continually been a weak link… Why did Boozer fall to the 2nd round of the 2002 draft and why didn’t we pick him up with our 1st round pick? Did Kareem Rush really have that more upside than him? Was he too slow and undersized? Not enough upside? Did he not fit our system and would clog up the paint with Shaq? Not a stretch 4? Was this just a brain fart by a bunch of GMs? I’m really curious because I remember us being always so overmatched at the 4-spot at that time with the likes of Duncan, Garnett, Malone, Weber, etc…

    I watched a little bit of him at the final four, and couldn’t figure out why he dropped so far? It was frustrating to see us have to do battle night in and night out and not beef up that position when the opportunity arised. Kareem Rush? Really?

  17. chibi,
    Did the Spurs sign Blair before his first year, or did they wait until the end of that first year. Especially with the missing ACLs I would think they wouldn’t/couldn’t give a 2nd rounder a 1st rounder’s contract.

  18. I’m not sure we need a 3-point specialist. We already have one, that we’re stuck with, in Sasha. And since we’re stuck with him, I think it’s far better to have him fill that role in the hope that he has a rebound year, than to bring in another player who duplicates his skill-set and ensures his redundancy.
    Look at it this way: one reason why coach Jackson is successful is that he gives lesser players limited but important roles which maximize their talent, and what enables him to give these players limited roles rather than asking them to do more than they are capable of is the variety of skill-sets on his roster (e.g. we need not ask Farmar to be a playmaker if LO can do it, we need not ask Powell to be a low-post presence as Drew and Pau can do that, etc.). So, all things being equal, it would be better to bring in a different sort of player than Sasha if there is some skill-set lacking in the team.
    And I think there is: we need a guard off the bench who can finish in the open-court, slash into the paint, and generally lift the tempo of the game. For that reason I’m hoping Brown comes back.

  19. I’ve just read the previous article and comments on Lamar Odom, and had to chime in with the further mention of him.
    It seems to me that Lamar’s value, in addition to the things that Darius rightly points out, is that versus 90 percent of the playoff teams that we’ve played in the past three years, Lamar is the mismatch that the other team doesn’t have an answer for.
    Most teams have a volume scorer that can at least TRY to keep pace with Kobe. Many of the better teams have a low post scorer that can compensate and/or defend Pau.
    But most teams, while trying to limit the damage caused by Pau and Kobe, have to leave Lamar’s defender to do the best he can, which in the long term becomes their fatal flaw, exposed and exploited by PJ and Lamar.
    I like to think of the Lakers as an ancient warrior. Bynum is our War Hammer – brute force, Pau is our Spear – forceful, yet subtle, Kobe is our Samari Sword – slashing and cutting without mercy, and Odom is our Dagger – slipped between the enemy’s ribs while they aren’t looking.

  20. thisisweaksauce July 17, 2010 at 8:35 pm

    Tai Chi (18),

    For the past two seasons, Sasha hasn’t been the shooter of 2007-2008. I would love Sasha to regain that form, but I do not want rely on that. Artest and Fisher are good shooters, but not quite dead-on all the time. I think a lot of us just want that pure, pure shooter (examples: Kyle Korver, Mike Miller) that can provide the spacing for our bigs and the rest of our offense. I love the Blake signing, because I feel like he can really space the floor, but I (like other Lakers fans, I’m sure) am greedy: I want a bit more. It’s not too much more: just someone with a pure, pure stroke who plays at the wing position. But hey, I’m not too worried; it’s all worked out the past 2 seasons, right?

  21. 17/craig: nope. they give him that contract from the get-go.

  22. @14… I actually agree with you here. While I doubt either will be offered a gigantic revenge contract given their lack of playing time (the Blazers took Matthews as payback for Milsapp last season) I do see a team with some cap space offering them a 2 year / $3 mil deal based on their potential. If the Lakers believe these guys can contribute to the team in the next 3 seasons… lock ‘em up. Because they’ll definitely still be cheaper than anybody else.

  23. Zach and # 14, couldn’t agree with you more. It’s a tough risk. We will never know how both pan out. But this is the Los Angeles Lakers. We make 12th men become a good enough 7th or 8th men for any team. This time, we have what proof we have of how ebanks and caracter will grow and I believe the ceiling is high. There are two things I like about how we signed some of our core members. One is that it’s a good three years for some, i think AB and LO which will open up for somewhat by say 2013 FA in which kobe is no longer in his prime and pau is hitting the same mark as well. we can lure a big name via trade and in mitch i trust. second is that we won in this draft. this is too good to just use up unless there is another megatrade for the 2nd centerpiece of our franchise moving forward. until that time happens, i like these two guys growing and eventually becoming starters behind bynum.

    to see this and save money, a longer contract now would sound smart.

    on the other hand, i hope the lakers sign at least one of either the backup C or the fourth guard. if we stick to 13 (and i am greedy so i don’t mind 14) we have dfish, kb, ron, pau, ab, lo, blake, ebanks, caracter, walton, sasha, backup c, and guard/sf combo wing man. am not so sold on brown yet until we have exhausted all options. i also need to emphasize the need for backup c. caracter is undersized and will not log consistent impact minutes yet until i am proven wrong.

    the walton contract is really beginning to be excess load at this point. i am not against any shakeup that will trade 2 (walton-sasha) for 1 ideal wing man/shooter at sg. but i feel there are no takers. at this rate, FA can still give us a butler. we can then talk about brown and/or barnes and tmac.

    again, speculate me this and that. GO LAKERS!

  24. oh and i was reading along sports blogs, just read that miami claims to have 9 players onboard already. so that’s chalmers, wade, james, bosh, anthony, miller, haslem, ilgauskas, magloire. did they not sign pittman too? that’s ten with pending arrivals of arroyo, juwan howard and probably james jones and the other draft picks considering that they seem to like to carry 14. that was fast though.

    do correct me if i am wrong.

    i am loving this arms race. boston, chicago and orlando trying to keep up with the heat. only that this heat team has nothing proven yet. and to add, this heat team is clearly trying to match-up with our lakers size-for-size. it will be a titanic clash: bosh-anthony-pittman-haslem-magloire-ilgauskas-howard (how are they sharing minutes?) against gasol-bynum-odom-caracter-backup C? Wow. but again, i am chuckling inside because this heat team, though now scary on paper, has proven zip together. miami is overloading the frontcourt and to what? realize that d12 is still getting his?

    still, i say the lakers go hard already after names not there and still chasing rings. thomas and wingman. people should not be all that close-minded to whoever comes to us bringing potential. i am talking about the barnes and the tmacs as 8-9th man. this is the lakers. they’ll work out fine.

    or someone just give me a rasual butler with WOW (who’s doing music videos) and kurt with a good luck note. GO LAKERS!

  25. I’m also on board with bringing in Rasual Butler. He would be an ideal fit for us. He can spread the floor and he can even defend. Unfortunately, I just don’t think we have enough money for him.

    #23 – I agree on the Walton contract. Everytime I think about it I don’t know how we gave this guy a contract for that many years. His agent should get a raise.

  26. I’m posting this because I just saw the headline on the front of the NBA page of espn.com:

    What does anybody think of signing rashad mccants? I honestly do not know much of him as an NBA player, but i know he was an athletic 2-guard at north carolina, and if we bring him in couldn’t he play about 8-10 minutes a night helping to relieve Kobe? Am I way off base here or is this something the Lakers should possibly pursue?

  27. I’m going to “stir the pot” here today, let’s get some discussion going on this question –

    the Lakers need a big man back up, yes?
    they only have about $1.7M to spend, and we’re looking at a Vet.

    hypothetically, let’s say Shaq goes public, saying he’ll only play for 1 of 2 teams, and he wants a ring cause this is his last year.
    Those 2 teams are Miami and the Lakers.
    it’s not about the money, he doesn’t really need that.
    it’s about legacy, and rings.

    so here’s my question, did he burn too many bridges? starting with Kobe, then Buss, probably PJ, and then Andrew, (remember that fight?) and no doubt there are others.

    Kobe has lobbied for Raja Bell, (and probably Matt barnes) both have been total A-holes to Kobe in the past, (and I know it’s hard for me to like them) but Kobe seems to say if it’ll help win a ring, then let bygones be bygones and bring them on.

    but would this also apply to Shaq?

    what if he agreed to come on for the $1.7M?

    what would you do?

  28. Na, I want 2 more rings than Shaq

  29. 27

    No, no, no, no, a thousand times no. And I’m not even considering any of those bridges you mentioned.

    First of all, Shaq would not be the ‘big man back up’ – that’s Odom’s job. Shaq would be replacing Mbenga and/or Powell who are garbage-time/emergency bigs. Even at this stage of his career Shaq is clearly overqualified for that role. Hell, he’s put up comparable numbers to Bynum over the last 3 years, so he’d probably by angling for a starting role before too long.

    What we need right now is someone who will be happy to fit in, stay ready, and provide 10-15 solid minutes in a pinch. Nesterovic or Thomas would do fine. Do you really think Shaq is ready to make that kind of adjustment?

  30. I really do not think Shaq will ever play again in a Lakers jersey, but one will hang from the rafters someday, for sure.

  31. hey Joel,
    just wanted to hear some opinion’s is all..

  32. Chris #27: I’m with sT #30.

    That is: The next time Shaq has a Laker jersey, it will be worn by the wall, not by him. [crossing self with hope that’s the case]

  33. Darius,

    Can you update other team’s sports blogs by Division? I know you mention it during Game Previews, but it would be nice to have every team (arranged by division) readily available on the right sidebar.

    Also, are there any plans to update the website (not that I don’t like how it is now)?

  34. To Shaq or not to Shaq…that is the question? How come every where Shaq goes he leaves poorly? How come, its alway’s some one elses fault and never his? The medcial staff, did not keep me in shape… Pat wanted me to practice more…etc., etc. etc., Shaqtopotamus was great, and still could serve as a big backup center, but has he really learned anything over the years? Has he really learned to cooperate with the team and its owners? Has learn to co-exist with other stars? That is his problem and has been for so many years, but we adoring fans has let his humor distract the fact that he has been so distructive in the locker room. If takes weeks off with minor injuries, even whe he was in his prime, the list of transgression are long.

  35. @34, Don Ford, LOL. I just love this site!