Shaquille O’Neal and LeBron James shared a team on the Cavaliers. They never coincided generationally and the forward came to the league when the pivot was a star that began to lose light. But they had time to face each other as rivals and to coincide during a season in the same team, in 2009-10. It was LeBron’s last basketball course in his first stint in Ohio. before taking that controversy from The Decission that took him to Florida to become the most hated player on the planet, win two rings, play four consecutive Finals and return home to win the promised ring, reconcile with public opinion and close the circle in the Lakers another championship and a history from which the narrative that the NBA always manages has lived on for more than a decade. And of the one that keeps doing it.
The season wasn’t particularly good for those Cavs. It started with what Shaq said about “I have come to bring a ring for the King”, but it did not turn out that way. The pivot came from curdling his last great season at a statistical level with the Suns, far from the superman numbers of yesteryear, but with 17.8 points and more than 8 rebounds per game that boosted him to the All Star (MVP along with Kobe Bryant and reconciliation) and the Best Third Quintet of the season. However, Coach Mike Brown’s system, monopolized by LeBron, prevented him from receiving post basketball, his best offense in attack, while his weight increased and his mobility decreased. He had 12 points and 6 rebounds per game and some spoke of a bad relationship with LeBron. “I’m not going to tell you the trick,” Kobe dropped, referring to how to treat the center.
Still, 62-20, the Eastern Conference’s best record for the second year in a row and second also above 60 wins (66 the year before). It was useless: the Celtics, hardened in a thousand battles, finished with LeBron in 6 games despite the initial advantage (2-1) of the Ohio team. A spectacular series by Rajon Rondo, who went to 29 points, 18 rebounds and 13 assists in the sixth game, sentenced the tie and LeBron went through the Boston Garden locker room tunnel with commentator Mike Breen predicting that this would be his last. match with the Cavaliers jersey. And it wasn’t. But that seemed when the forward headed to Florida to start a story that we already know how it ended.. If it’s over.
Shaq, who had previously announced his retirement, continued one more year with the Celtics, but his physique and injuries prevented him from playing many minutes. Boston got knocked out by the Heat of, wow, LeBron. And although the coexistence between the two in the Cavs was not entirely good, Shaq today surrendered to the King saying that he is the best of all time ahead of even Michael Jordan. And they have justified it: “He wears four rings and is going to be the highest scorer in history”, has assured the legend in statements collected by Lakers Daily. “He is the best of always, there is no doubt possible,” he has sentenced, fueling that constant debate that the NBA also lives on. And it seems that LeBron is in a position to at least feed the discussion and justify its existence. The rest, of course, we’ll see.