Friday, September 17, 2010

Source: Miami Rejected Shaq Reunion last July

Had a chance to catch up with a longtime friend who I used to hang with during Shaq's Miami tenure. A person close to Shaq had revealed to him that Miami rejected O'Neal's pledge to finish out his career in Miami, joining the trio.

It comes no surprise considering Shaq burned every bridge possible on his way out of South Beach. There were some reports earlier that he and Pat Riley, when he was still coaching, had to be separated during an intense team practice by Alonzo Mourning. O'Neal is also believed to be the reason why previous Heat coach Stan Van Gundy got the axe. He expressed plenty of disinterest during Van Gundy's coaching tenure. Being the big time star he once was, he forced the management to replace Van Gundy and thus, leading to Pat Riley's comeback. During the 2009 season, Shaq ripped Van Gundy, calling him "the master of panic."

 Shaq also didn't want to miss out an opportunity to take shots at his former teammates in Miami. After being traded to the Phoenix Suns that brought in Shawn Marion and Marcus Banks to South Beach, The Boston Globe had a chance to talk with O'Neal .

"I love playing for this coach and I love playing with [the Suns]," O'Neal stated, "We have professionals who know what to do. No one is asking me to play with Chris Quinn or Ricky Davis. I'm actually on a team again." Numerous reports have also said that O'Neal has badmouthed Miami's training staff, despite giving the best possible aid to O'Neal. This comes as no surprise to anyone.

During the 2009 trading deadline, Miami had the luxury to choose between several offers they got for the package of Shawn Marion and Marcus Banks. The Heat wanted to unload Banks' contract since it had already planned on making a splash on the summer of 2010.

Miami had a deal with Sacramento fell off. The Kings were almost close trading Brad Miller and John Salmons for the Heat's package but opted to trade with Chicago instead, getting Andres Nocioni and Drew Gooden.

The Heat was often linked to several teams regarding potential destinations for Marion and Banks. There was even a time when the Bulls offered Ben Gordon, while the Cavs offered Anderson Varejao and Wally Szczerbiak. Marion's agent, Dan Fegan, declined Pat Riley's extension offer of 3 years and $30 million.

Then came the Phoenix Suns' call. A year after dealing with the Heat, the Suns approached Pat Riley and offered the same deal they did 300 days ago. Phoenix proposed a trade sending Shaquille O'Neal back to Miami for Shawn Marion and Marcus Banks. Sources say Miami quickly nixed the trade and didn't want any part of Shaq back, despite playing like an all-star that season. Shawn Marion reportedly was also against the move, so the deal quickly fell off and didn't go anywhere. Miami ended up trading Marion to the Raptors in exchange of O'Neal, and no, that's not Shaq, but rather Jermaine O'Neal. Toronto failed to make the Jermaine experiment work and thus leading to a disappointing season. Miami also got Jamario Moon and a 1st round pick in the deal, which would eventually come in handy since it was the centerpiece of the Heat's sign-and-trade deal that netted them Toronto's franchise player, Chris Bosh.

That was just the first missed opportunity for Shaq to be in had he not badmouth Miami. It just keeps biting him back.

Miami's hard work of sacrificing assets and showcasing of patience eventually paid off during the 2010 off-season - when LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh all decided to team up and form a dream team in Miami. They would be joined by key role players like Mario Chalmers, Joel Anthony, Mike Miller, Eddie House, Zydrunas Ilgauskas, James Jones, Jamaal Magloire and more. Despite assembling a super roster with these pieces, plenty of people still found ways to criticize the Heat. Their problem? Miami doesn't have a big man alongside Chris Bosh that is capable enough of facing the likes of Dwight Howard, Pau Gasol, and Andrew Bynum.

This is where Shaq's wasted opportunity number 2 arrives. Karma does come. After getting the trio, sources have indicated that O'Neal quickly approached Miami's management and wanted to come back. No one could blame Shaq, as it seemed like the perfect fit if you factor in his needs. He would have the spotlight back again playing alongside those 3, and could still be a solid contributor. He could provide a huge boost to Miami's frontcourt against potential rivals like Orlando, LA, etc. It seemed that Shaq needed Miami and Miami needed Shaq right?

Well, that's wrong.

Riley quickly dismissed the possibility and told Shaq to find a team somewhere else. The damage was too huge to be undone. O'Neal burned every bridge possible on the way out of Miami back in 2008. Riley didn't want to get a distraction to the trio, as Shaq would only ruin the team's chemistry. His ego is too big for him to survive on the dream team and not complain.

Despite Miami rejecting O'Neal, his camp still continued to float rumors around the web to drive his reputation and value up. In the end, it didn't help him, though. There was small interest around the market for Shaq throughout the whole process, thus, he was eventually forced to take less money - and go to the Boston Celtics and compete for playing time with Kendrick Perkins and the other O'Neal, Jermaine.

In the end, Shaq screwed his self right here since Miami was a better place for him to finish his career than Boston. The fact is, we are not trying to compare who's better between the two teams since Miami has accepted the fact that Boston is the team to beat in the East, but rather, show Shaq that his antics will eventually haunt him back and cost him in the end. (and it did) He's a talented player, no doubt, but to badmouth and backstab an organization once you leave would do you no good. It'll come back to you again and again.

Lesson learned, Shaq.

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