|With All-Star streak in jeopardy, Shaquille O'Neal says hip still a problem|
|Written by Admin|
|Saturday, 26 January 2008 10:27|
He'd enjoy the recognition. He's not fixating on it, however.
The Miami Heat center said Saturday that his sore left hip hasn't improved since he was shut down from basketball-related activity several days ago, and that he isn't sure if the planned two-week break from playing will be enough time for the joint to heal.
``The most important thing is to get as healthy as possible so I can get back out here with my guys,'' O'Neal said Saturday before the Heat hosted the Indiana Pacers. ``There's nothing as important to me as getting out here, fighting with my guys, win or lose. I'm not one of those players who's going to do extra-extra stuff to get on the All-Star team.''
O'Neal, Jerry West and Karl Malone are the only players selected to 14 straight All-Star games. He's always a fan favorite during the league's showcase weekend, and his antics - including breakdancing with Dwight Howard and LeBron James last year - are the stuff of YouTube lore.
O'Neal will be at All-Star weekend in New Orleans regardless of the reserve-roster vote outcome. The former LSU star has at least two events planned, including a fundraising party with Reggie Bush of the NFL's Saints.
If the coaches choose him as a reserve - their vote will be revealed Thursday - O'Neal sounds like he may want to play.
``Right now, I'm just trying to get as close to 70 percent healthy and then we'll see,'' O'Neal said. ``If I come back playing and get voted in, it's something I'll think about. ... If I get voted in, I won't be extra happy. If I don't get voted in, I won't be extra sad.''
O'Neal hurt his hip last month while diving for a loose ball in a Dec. 22 game against the Utah Jazz. He wound up missing eight games and getting treatment in Los Angeles during that period, then returned to the Miami lineup on Jan. 16 feeling somewhat better.
The comeback lasted four games.
O'Neal aggravated the injury in Monday's loss to Cleveland, and the team said the following day that the center would get two weeks to rest and ice the hip - at which time he'd be re-evaluated.
``I wanted to come back. I wanted to be out there with the guys,'' said O'Neal, who doesn't know if he'll need to return to Los Angeles for more treatment. ``But (the treatment) worked. It definitely worked.''
He's averaging 14.2 points and 7.8 rebounds this season, and Saturday was the 10th game he's missed this year because of injury.