Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Shaq Stops Suns From Setting

Shaq’s relocation to Phoenix is the shrewdest move this NBA season. I say that because I’m not sure how many other general managers would have made that trade. Boston’s deal for KG and the Lakers pickup of Pau Gasol were both no-brainers, but this Phoenix/Miami blockbuster took not only forward-thinking by first-year GM Steve Kerr but also guts.

I have believed for quite some time that the window of opportunity to win a championship was closing for the Suns. And closing fast. In fact, I said that very thing on the radio in LA earlier this week. I just didn’t believe--even with the addition of Grant hill-- that this roster could win the West.

Mike D’Antoni’s “fun-and-gun” style made the Suns the darlings of the league, but as we have witnessed the last 3 years, that type of play alone won’t get you to the Finals. To quote veteran coaches and players, “you gotta get stops in the playoffs.” Phoenix gives up more scores than Kim Kardashian.

Even at 35, Shaq is still a force in this league when he is healthy and motivated. He may have lost 2-3 steps over the last couple of years, but no one occupies space better than The Diesel. That fact alone will shore up that weak Phoenix interior defense.

But perhaps even more importantly, Shaq seems to be pumped about the trade. There’s nothing like joining a championship contender to re-invigorate an elite player-- even one with multiple rings.

I heard that just before the trade became official, Shaq called Steve Nash and told him, “I won’t let you down.”

If that doesn’t put the rest of the West on notice, I don’t know what would.

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