BY ALICIA CRUZ
When he does something, he does it in a big way. In everything from charitable acts of kindness (the Shaniya Davis funeral) to dominating the court for points and rebounds to contracts, Shaquille O'Neal makes a statement. And his contract with The Boston Celtics has been no exception.
According to the Associated Press, the 7-foot-1, 325-pound center has joined the Eastern Conference champions after signing a two-year contract worth a reported $3 million on Wednesday.
"The Big Three" of the Boston Celtics: Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen are now a Very Big Foursome with the Newark native being added to the 17 championship winning team.
All four were signed for two seasons, except Pierce, who has four years left on the deal he signed after the season.
Throughout O'Neal's tenure in the NBA we have watched the 2009 inductee of the New Jersey Hall of Fame play in 15 All-Star games with six teams. He's ranked at 14 in rebounds with 12,921 in league history and is the fifth leading scorer with 28,255 points. He's averaged 24.1 points, 11.0 rebounds and 2.3 blocks and is the fourth-ranked player of all-time in free throws taken, having shot 11,121 free-throws in 1,170 games through the 2009-2010 playing season. He's a four-time NBA champion.
"I am honored to be joining the Celtics," Shaq said in a statement issued by the club. "I have played against Paul, Ray, Kevin, Rajon, and Jermaine for many years and it will be great to be able to call them my teammates. I cannot wait to get to Boston to get started in pursuit of another championship."
O'Neal, whose relationship with the media and overall charismatic personality earned him nicknames such as "The Big Aristotle," and The Real Deal," has been quite a force to reckon with since The Orlando Magic drafted him with the 1st pick in 1992 out of Louisiana State.
A spectacular rookie season where Shaq Diesel shot 56.2 percent averaging 23.4 points, with 13.9 rebounds, and 3.5 blocks per game, earned him the honor of being named the 1993 NBA Rookie of the Year.
He often credits the Newark Boys and Girls Club of America with giving him a safe place to play and keeping him off the streets. "It gave me something to do," said O'Neal, who earned his MBA online through the University of Phoenix in 2005.
"I'd just go there [the Boys and Girls Club] to shoot. I didn't even play on a team," said O'Neal, who led his Robert G. Cole High School team in San Antonio, Texas, to a 68-1 record and helped the team win the state title during his senior year.
With Kendrick Perkins out, possibly until February, after injuring his knee during Game 6 of the NBA finals against Los Angeles and having surgery for torn ligaments, the Celtics will need the powerhouse center.
"If we get to another Game 7 (referring to their 83-79 loss), I'm sure we will be glad we have Shaq on the team," Celtics co-owner Wyc Grousbeck said.
Whether or not this is where the 38-year-old's magnificent 20-season career will end is anybody's guess, but either way, he says he plans to leave the court as graciously as he entered.
The Celtics also signed free agent center and six-time All-Star, Jermaine O'Neal for two seasons.
Which of the two O'Neal's will start at center has not been decided but Celtics coach Doc Rivers did say he was very excited to have O'Neal.
"Adding a player like Shaq is a major plus and it fills a void for our team. He's a real nice piece of the puzzle and he will complement us in where we want to go this coming season," said Rivers.
The Celtics won an NBA high 17th championship in 2008.