Help Wanted: explaining the Shaq trade

by February 07, 2008

By Sam Rubenstein

Twenty four hours ago, Mutoni sent an email explaining that he had the Shaq pending physical story ready to go, and could someone else just flick a switch if the trade went through. That was when it hit me that this thing wasn’t Jimmy McNulty’s fake serial killer story. This was real. There is an ancient Chinese proverb “May you live in interesting times.” Happy Chinese New Year everyone! And yeah, we are living in interesting times.

Greatest Super Bowl ever, Eli Manning on David Letterman, Super Tuesday with a woman and black man as co-front runners in a major political party, Bob Knight suddenly quitting, Tyler Hansbrough passing Michael Jordan on the UNC scoring list, Phoenix and New Orleans going to double OT hours after the trade was finalized…


The Shaq-Marion (Banks) trade for me is like they day after a new episode of LOST. I think I understand it abstractly, but I’m also more confused than ever. Shawn Marion must have been whining even more than we were allowed to know. The Suns wanted more diversity of position type, instead of having 10 guys who can drain threes and explode up and down the court. Amare wanted to go back to being a PF, since in the West he should have to match up with Duncan, Dirk, Gasol, the big-time scorers from the front court. Not Camby or Chandler or Dampier or Oberto. I don’t know if I believe what I’m writing, just trying to rationalize.

So Shaq can slide into the spot taken up by Western Conference brutes. For most of NBA history, the blueprint seemed to be to get an elite center to build around, then team him up with a rugged forward to do the dirty work. Now it’s the other way. Get a superstar PF, and have the center do the dirty work. So Amare gets to be the front court star, and Shaq is his goon. Shaq is to Amare what Horace Grant or A.C. Green was to younger Shaq. Very interesting development.

As for Shawn Marion, he makes $17 million, he can opt out at the end of the season, and he’s the bargain in the deal. Miami could save a lot of money after spending to grab a quick title. Reminds me of that other great Florida team, the Marlins. Two rings and two fire sales in less than a ten year window.

Okay, Holly will have lots to get to today if she hasn’t already. Double OT with a buzzer beater, Dirk’s triple double, the new-look Lakers losing to the Hawks!

If anyone can fill in more details and reasoning from the Phoenix side, I’d love to hear it. I watched Steve Kerr and Mike D’Antoni explain how this will motivate Shaq to get back into shape, to get healthy, to prove all the pundits wrong… I dunno man, I remember Michael Jackson once gave a speech at an awards show in the late 90’s, after History had already been out. The money quote was “You ain’t seen nothing yet.” I found that funny because he was the world’s biggest superstar for much of the past 30 years, and now he’s saying there’s more to come? Oh, there was more alright… no comment. Good luck Shaquille! Hit that gym hard. I had a veggie burger and asparagus for lunch yesterday. Highly recommended.

By the way, that Chinese Proverb might be a curse.