Shaquille O’Neal Taking Off Entire Off-Season Too
MIAMI, FL (The Sportsman’s Daily Wire Service) – Thirty-eight year old Shaquille O’Neal played the better part of the regular season like an aging opera star protecting his vocal chords. But by the time the 2010 playoffs rolled around, the Cleveland Cavaliers could not have done worse if they had Italian tenor Pavarotti in the paint, going down to the aging Boston Celtics.
When Shaq announced his intentions to return for the 2010-2011 campaign — possibly beyond — he was asked if he planned on committing to a more rigorous off-season regimen than was his custom. It’s no secret that Shaq’s off-season typically consists of an endless cycle of public appearances, commercial shoots, lavish Caribbean vacations, star-studded parties and galas and, yes, even house chores. While he mumbled some words to the effect that he planned on getting his creaky 38 year old body ready for one, possibly two more seasons, friends and associates privately admit that he’s been thus far unable – perhaps unwilling — to commit to the off-season, his lack of focus and energy in mid-season form.
“He just can’t take it seriously,” said an unnamed friend. “There’s nothing you can say or do to get the big guy motivated. It might as well be the seventeenth game of the season, you’re in Minneapolis and it’s cold as shit outside. A couple weeks into the off-season and he just sits there, staring at the 70 inch plasma, munching on dry Captain Crunch in his Superman pj’s.”
Business advisors have been kept waiting and scheduled appearances have been put on hold. O’Neal’s complete indifference to the off-season even extends to his closest friends; he doesn’t return phone calls or respond to text messages. His ex-wife, Shaunie O’Neal, relates what it’s like being around Shaq in the off-season.
“You know what it’s like having a 340 pound man around the house who’s entire day is spent in a leather recliner watching TV? I come down for breakfast, there is he, watching one of the morning shows. Five hours later I come back from the gym or from the mall or lunch out with the girls, and who’s big ass is still there, exactly where I left it? Would it kill him to take the kids out for lunch or on a play date…would it kill him to take out the trash or fix the shower head in the master bathroom? If I wanted to spend the off-season with a big lumbering, do-nothing stiff I would have married some seven foot three white guy from Latvia.”
Perry Rogers, O’Neal’s agent, defended his client’s propensity for coasting. “People who don’t walk in Shaq’s very large shoes have no idea of what it takes to make it through an off-season. It’s a grind. And let’s face it, he doesn’t have many off-seasons left. So c’mon people, cut the guy some slack.”
Several Cavs players were surprised to learn that Shaq was blowing off the off-season after blowing off the pre-season and regular season and making a token go of it in the post-season. “Damn,” said one player that asked not to be identified. “I’m shocked. After game two if you asked me to name one player who couldn’t wait for the off-season to start soon enough, it was Shaq.”