Doc Rivers Knocked Shaq Down a Few Pegs Before He Signed
Shaquille O’Neal may have an ego that’s as big as his 325-pound frame and he may think more highly of his career than Jim Rome does, but he obviously appreciates a coach who is willing to be a straight shooter. According to Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe, Shaq was given an opporunity to meet such a coach when he sat down for a meeting with Boston Celtics Coach Doc Rivers prior to signing his deal. Instead of tooting his horn or buttering his biscuit or whichever cliche you’d like to use to describe a coach stroking a free agent’s ego, Doc took a no-b.s. approach with the 18-year veteran when Shaq visited his home last month:
He told O’Neal he may not start. He told O’Neal his skills had declined, so touches won’t be a priority. He told O’Neal he was a liability on pick-and-roll defense. O’Neal sat there with a blank expression, and Rivers thought there was no chance of a deal getting done. There was no way O’Neal would accept that type of criticism and accept a minimum salary as well.”
Doc Rivers is one of the best at getting veteran players to come play for him and accept a more limited role than they might be used to, and this is a perfect example of why. Rather than being told anything they want to hear to get them to sign the dotted line, it must be refreshing for a free agent to listen to a coach who holds nothing back. There are always rumblings about O’Neal being a poor pick-and-roll player, but I doubt many coaches have looked him in the eye and told him that.
At the end of the day, Shaq wants another ring. If he gets it, he won’t have to listen to Kobe Bryant talk about his five rings anymore. Boston provides Shaq with a chance to achieve that goal while playing for an honest coach with a reputation for knowing how to handle individual personalities.