Hubris, The Big Aristotle and the Phoenix Suns

Re: The ‘Big Risk’, Steve Kerr Rolls the Dice 


Hubris: The most common form of tragic flaw, usually ascribed to excessive pride or arrogance.

Insightful observations, the last 24 hrs …  

Roland Lazenby, on SportsHubLA, Twin Towers For The Lakers? Head Scratching For The Suns? 

I’m surprised (Steve) Kerr would do that,” (Tex) Winter said of the Suns’ trading Shawn Marion this week for Shaq. “It’s a strange trade. Shaq sure misses a lot of games. He’s not a very good defensive rebounder, or offensive rebounder for that matter. He does rebound his own misses a lot.” 

Adrian Wojnarowski, Yahoo! Sports, Suns hoping O’Neal has something left in tank 

Kerr insists the Suns doctors – considered the benchmark staff in the sport – are sold that they have a rehab remedy for Shaq’s troublesome hip to work him back into shape. “He’s going to make dramatic improvement with us,” the two doctors told Kerr, and that carries credibility with the Suns basketball people. Before the Suns signed Nash, Hill and Antonio McDyess with serious past injuries, the medical staff assured them that they could keep these players healthy.


Henry Abbott, TrueHoop, The Way Shaquille O’Neal Plays Now 

Better than looking at numbers is watching video. I just did a ton of this, thanks to Synergy Sports. I watched him against the kinds of Western powers that the Lakers are likely to face. And I watched him against other teams.

Here are some things I can tell you with assurance:

* He’s not as slow or fat as rumored. He looks pretty fit, frankly. And on the ground, he moves well. Sometimes he even beats the opposing center down the floor. When pressed, he can still win deep post position against just about anyone. Once he catches it there, his footwork has long been splendid. Without looking rushed, he can probe the defender’s attack and make the right maneuver — spin, jump hook, power dribble, whatever — time and again. He is doing an excellent job of getting himself good, clean, short-range looks, and then …

* … he’s blowing layups. Layup after layup after layup after layup. It’s horrible to watch. He’s a first-rate talent. He’s getting the shot every coach dreams about: point blank, with no real defensive distractions. And then he just misses it. Five years ago, he dunked all of those. Now, thanks to his physical limitations, he’s not going over anybody with anything. So he has to finesse it, and watching him finesse a layup is a lot like watching him finesse a free throw. Hard to watch. 

* I had watched about 20 clips of him before it really struck me how true it is that the man can not jump anymore. Rebounding, scoring, blocking shots … everything he does now is within a few inches of the ground. It doesn’t make him any slower, weaker, or smaller, but it does significantly up the chances that the opposition stops him from doing what he wants to do. (For instance, James Jones blocked his shot earlier this year. That didn’t happen five years ago.) So stark is this limitation that I won’t be at all surprised if we learn later that some essential element of a good jump — some muscle, some ligament, some something — is incapacitated or missing entirely from O’Neal this season. And that really hurts his potential as a stopper, basket protector, and rebounder in Phoenix. If the Suns doctors and trainers can re-install whatever’s missing, he’ll be dunking again, which will change everything.

* There has been the suggestion that he might help the Suns stop big men like Andrew Bynum and Tim Duncan. Maybe that’s part of the plan. But I can tell you that he has not yet seen the new Bynum, and when Miami played San Antonio early this season, O’Neal was strictly on Fabricio Oberto and Francisco Elson duty. Three times, late in the game, he ended up on Duncan in a switch or as a helper, and here’s what happened: Duncan put the ball on the floor and made a layup, Duncan kicked out to Manu Ginobili for a made three, and Duncan dribbled the ball out of bounds — my money’s on it going off O’Neal, but it was called Miami ball. So, without a dubious call, you have exactly zero success with O’Neal as a Duncan stopper.

When an elite level athlete loses his/her legs … he/she cannot play ‘the game’ any more. 

Shaquille O’Neal’s legs are gone. 

In fact, they’ve been gone since the 2005-2006 season, when his ORPG dipped below 3.4 for the first time in his career. 

When the Heat captured the NBA Championship that year, storming back against the Dallas Mavericks in the Finals, from an 0-2 deficit, they did so without Shaq on the floor for extended stretches of the game and, most importantly, not at all in the closing minutes of the last 4 games. 

The 2005-2006 NBA Championship belonged to Dwyane Wade & Co. … not to The Diesel & His Friends.  

Q1. Are the Suns a better team today than they were two days ago?
A1. Yes, they are. 

Q2. Are the Suns more of a threat to actually win the 2007-2008 NBA Championship, right now, than they were two ago?
A2. Yes, they are. 

Q3. Are the Suns good enough, as is, to win this year’s NBA Finals?
A3. No, they are not. 

Q4. How come? 
Because Shaq simply doesn’t move well enough (with agility & power) any more to: 

1)      Defend his own check effectively, especially away from the basket;
2)      Block shots effectively;
3)      Defensive Rebound effectively;
4)      Rotate properly on Defense; and,
5)      Offensive Rebound his teammates’ Misses effectively.

And, it’s only Hubris for him and members of Suns’ Athletic Training Staff to believe, unequivocally, that their State-of-the-Art rehabilitation techniques will be able to restore this behemoth of a man to sound working order, after 15 years of NBA pounding, once this type of physical decay has set in. 

Restoring the health of relative youngsters … like Amare Stoudemire and Antonio McDyess, after serious knee injuries … and maintaining ‘horizontal’ athletes … like Steve Nash & Grant Hill, respectively, despite serious back & assorted other ailments … is not the same thing as returning ‘the Hops’ to a 312 lbs Giant, who hasn’t been able to jump properly for 2 years, due to a series of debilitating knee, thigh and hip injuries, which required several surgeries & extensive rehabilitation/treatment during the last 24 months, including a series of cortisone shots.   

Proverbs 16: 18

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One Response to “Hubris, The Big Aristotle and the Phoenix Suns”

  1. Basketball » Hubris … Thy Name be The Big Aristotle … and the Suns’ Athletic … Says:

    […] khandor wrote a fantastic post today on “Hubris ⦠Thy Name be The Big Aristotle ⦠and the Sunsâ Athletic …”Here’s ONLY a quick extractandHenry Abbott, TrueHoop, The Way Shaquille O’Neal Plays Now. Better than looking at numbers is watching video. I just did a ton of this, thanks to Synergy Sports. I watched him against the kinds of Western powers that the Lakers are … […]

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