He might not be ready to play NBA basketball yet, but Shaquille O’Neal is more than ready to post up Bill Walton in their recent war of words.
Still angry over personal comments made by Walton in his analysis of the trade that sent O’Neal from Miami to Phoenix, Shaq loaded up a second round of volleys for the ESPN analyst – who called Shaq’s arrogance “an insult to people who think.”
Walton said: “What he did in Miami by saying ‘I can’t play at all’ and now ‘I’m going to win the championship (in Phoenix),’ that’s absolutely ludicrous. Six weeks ago Shaquille O’Neal was on the verge of the all-time consecutive fouled out rule, and Pat Riley saved him. This going to be very difficult for Shaq to work his way through.”
O’Neal shot back at Walton on Sunday, and had more on Tuesday – saying Walton needs to compare resumes before he speaks again.
“I’ve done more in three years than he’s done in his whole career,” said O’Neal, referring to his three-peat run with the Lakers. “I would like a little respect from this man. I don’t understand where his comments are coming from, nor do I really care.
“(Walton) being disrespectful to me is like me being disrespectful to Bill Russell. (Walton) has one and half, maybe two championships. I have four. I’ve been (to the NBA Finals) six times. He criticized me for being injured … he only had two full seasons in his entire career. One thing I hate in life is a hypocrite – I hate them, despise them. So I would like a little respect when it comes to ‘The Dominant Big Man’s Club’
“Him talking about me is like the owner of Atari talking about Bill Gates. You can’t do it. The pecking order rules.”
You won’t find a more interested bystander to the O’Neal-Shawn Marion trade than ex-Sun Joe Johnson, who two years earlier asked to be moved out of Phoenix because he felt unappreciated and underutilized. Johnson, who stays in close contact with Marion, told the Atlanta-Journal Constitution he knew the end was near for his friend in Phoenix.
“I’m not surprised Phoenix traded Shawn,” Johnson said. “I think going back to last summer, it was clear that Shawn wanted to get out. But we’re all smart enough to realize that the trade deadline is coming (Feb. 21).”
Johnson is still waiting impatiently for Hawks management to bring in some help. The Hawks are clinging to the seventh playoff spot in the East, but they have lost 14 of their last 21 games to slide to 21-27 and are in danger of handing the Suns a lottery pick to complete the Johnson deal.
“Right now, so many teams are making so many big moves. I don’t know what anybody is waiting on. I’m sure there is stuff out there for every team, but I’m done pressing the issue.”
O’Neal might have appointed himself to a front-office position at his introductory press conference, but it was Nash who joined the Suns coaches, general manager Steve Kerr and front-office members David Griffin and Vinny Del Negro in a post-practice huddle to discuss the progress of their new acquisition.
Crews reinforced the welding job on both baskets on the Suns’ practice court late Monday to make sure they held up to the pounding of O’Neal’s dunks.
Did center Brian Skinner feel any more comfortable? Somewhat.
“Today was the first time since I’ve been here that I actually saw the rims bend,” Skinner said. “He’s a big man. Support was needed. We just decided (Monday) it would be safer to stand to the side of the basket and not underneath.”
Nash on having O’Neal as a mentor for Amaré Stoudemire: “This is a great gift for Amaré. To have one of the best centers to play the game want to mentor him, especially at a point where he’s still a terrific player and Amaré is still improving … it’s not like he’s an assistant coach, he’s going to be out there showing the way.”