His nickname hasnt arrived. His motto with Cleveland is already in place. Win a Ring for the King, Shaquille ONeal said in announcing his goal to help LeBron James get his first NBA championship
Dressed smartly in a black suit,pink shirt and matching tie,the inimitable Shaq was introduced on Thursday for the first time as a member of the Cavaliers,who traded for the 15-time All-Star center last week with the belief that he can end this citys title drought.
Alternately joking,laughing and turning serious when the topic turned to basketball,ONeal,who has won four titles,said hes got a lot left and that he plans to play three more seasons. Theres only four or five good centres in this league,and Im in that number, he said.
ONeal held court for nearly a half hour as only the big man can. In front of an audience that included Cavs owner Dan Gilbert,media members,season-ticket holders,corporate partners and kids from a summer camp,ONeal gave Cleveland fans their first glimpse of whats in store next year and maybe beyond.
Joined by his wife,Shaunie,ONeal was calm,comedic and oozing as always with confidence. Clutching the microphone and delivering answers in his unmistakable,bottomless baritone,he addressed topics ranging from a possible contract extension to Jamess future to his Twitter page to a budding rivalry with Orlando centre Dwight Howard.
The Cavs lost to the Magic in the Eastern Conference finals this season partly because they had no interior answer for Howard. Now,they do. We will not have to double (team) anybody and you can underline that 100 times,we wont have to double anybody, he said.
ONeal feels he can still dominate. In the past,he has taken shots at the 21-year-old Howard,who has stolen Shaqs Superman moniker and seems to be following ONeals sneaker prints to stardom. Make no mistake,ONeal believes hes still the NBAs ruling enforcer.
Im still here. Im a force to be reckoned with… you have to come take my spot,and not through Twitter and not through the media,come take my spot. Im ready to go. As big men in the league,there are two who have done something special during this millennium. Im one and Tim Duncan is the other. Anyone else has to come upstairs and see the Shogun. Im still the Shogun.
ONeals only focus is on warming James with a title. Its LeBrons team, he said. Hes the captain. This is the time in my career where I can fit in. Im now in the security business. My job is to protect the King,and thats what Im here to do.
As for a new nickname,the man called Shaq Daddy,The Big Diesel,The Big Aristotle,Shaq Fu and others,said he hasnt settled on one yet for Cleveland.
A friend of mine tweeted me with the Big Freeze, ONeal said. I dont know about that one yet.