|Shaq is starting over and thrilled with his 'fabulous' team|
|Written by Admin|
|Thursday, 07 February 2008 08:37|
``I'm very upset,'' he said Thursday at a news conference to introduce him as a member of his new team. ``You just don't really want to get me upset. When I'm upset, I'm known to do certain things - like win championships.''
O'Neal, once the game's dominant big man but now slowed by a hip injury, said he is motivated by the negative talk.
``This team has always been there in the Western Conference,'' he said. ``They just couldn't quite get over the hump. I think with my experience and my on the court-off the court leadership, I can help them get over the hump.''
Asked what he felt when he heard he could be going to Phoenix, O'Neal said, ``I wanted it to happen because I was going to be coming to a fabulous team with a lot of unselfish players, a lot of great players.''
``The last couple of years I was in a system that we really didn't run, so you automatically think I can't run,'' he said. ``But I love to run, especially if I'm playing with a great guy like Steve Nash. I look forward to making people eat their words, I really do.''
O'Neal, who turns 36 next month, has been out for two weeks with a hip injury but cleared his physical Wednesday and hopes to play before the All-Star break.
O'Neal was his charming self throughout the news conference. Asked if he knew he looked good in purple, he smiled and said, ``I did. Thank you very much.''
On Wednesday night, he was also smiling. He stood from his seat in a suite high above the court at US Airways Center. He pointed to his ring finger and gave a thumbs up.
The crowd went crazy. The message he was sending on the big screen at the Phoenix-New Orleans game was clear: He intends to bring to Phoenix the championship that has eluded the Suns through their 40-year history.
The trade that brought O'Neal to Phoenix on Wednesday is one of the most unexpected in NBA history, a blockbuster that sent Shawn Marion and Marcus Banks to Miami and came together in just a few days under first-year Phoenix general manager Steve Kerr.
nd Goliath who would stifle the Suns' trademark up-tempo game.
And the Suns were taking on a contract that pays O'Neal $20 million each of the next two seasons.
Yet coach Mike D'Antoni and the Suns players said they were elated, that they believe O'Neal will be reinvigorated by the move and become a crucial component of their title run.
``We feel like our players are giddy with the possibilities,'' D'Antoni said, ``and he's ready and focused. It's up to the coaching staff to do the tweaks without changing everything, and I don't think we have to.''
Nash was ``shocked'' by the trade.
``If you look at what happened the last 24 hours it was incredible,'' he said. ``You go through a whole bunch of emotions. It was very unexpected, but at the same time to get a chance to play with Shaquille O'Neal is pretty exciting.''
The Suns believe whatever ails O'Neal can be cured by their doctors and training staff.
``It's a matter of flexibility in the joints and different things,'' Kerr said. ``They're very progressive with their rehabilitation and they felt very strongly that he's going to be more mobile and explosive than what he has been.''
Nash is well aware of questions concerning O'Neal's health.
``There's doubts and a risk to everything,'' Nash said. ``I know that's going to be a favorite talking point for all the media, but for us the talking point is we've got an incredible, huge, talented, charismatic player in our locker room now. ... This sounds like it's going to be a lot of fun.''
O'Neal's ability to lift spirits is another plus for a Suns team that seemed joyless despite its success.
``I think the Big Aristotle is going to be fun for us,'' Nash said. ``He has a great personality and he is one of the most exciting, charismatic players we have had in this league in a long time. Hopefully he is as excited to be here as he sounds and as we are and gives everybody a big lift.''
O'Neal has averaged 25.6 points and 11.5 rebounds in 16 seasons in the NBA. This season, plagued by injuries and going through a divorce, he's averaging 14.2 points. His 14-year streak as an All-Star choice came to an end this year.
He missed much of the 2006-07 season with a knee injury and finished that season with career lows in games (40), scoring (17.3 points), rebounds (7.4), minutes (28.4) and free-throw percentage (.422).
``When Shaq came to the team four years ago, I always felt it was forever,'' Heat coach Pat Riley said. ``We won a championship with him. We wish him nothing but the best. We have to move on with our team. We're rebuilding.''