Two mini-columns for the price of one...
The good news is that Shaquille O'Neal is headed to the Boston Celtics.
The bad news is that it's Shaq on fumes, Shaq at the end of the trail, the Shaq who can't move, can't guard anyone, and is only a faint reminder of the dominant, Hall of Fame-to-be player he once was.
The better news?
The Celtics aren't looking for him to be what he once was.
They are looking for him to be (1) an insurance policy until Kendrick Perkins comes back from knee surgery, and (2) a very big body off the bench.
He is 38 now, and his glory days are clearly in the past. Last year for the Cavaliers, he was still effective in the low block, where his immense size could still overpower people, but he was painfully slow and plodding, and when he got the ball everything seemed to stop. He also remains a liability from the free-throw line.
So it's all about lowered expectations now. But for all his oversized personality and presence, all the theater that seems to follow him around like an afternoon shadow, O'Neal is no fool. He knows he's not coming to the Celtics to be the man. He's coming to be a part, albeit a very high profile one.
But he wants to play for a winner, and the Celtics are a perfect fit, an aging team that wants one more title before it's all blown up and sent along its way. He will arrive with the force field that always surrounds him. Shaq is many things, but low profile isn't one of them.
The other day he was quoted as saying, "Worst comes to worst, I'll be a doctor, and do speaking engagements and talk to children and run for sheriff in this town or the next town over."
He will help the Celtics.
All the theater that comes with him is extra.
-- TOM BRADY
Maybe I'm missing something here.
Tom Brady is the best player in New England Patriots history, the main reason for the three Super Bowl titles, and just turned 33.
So what's up with his new contract?
Yeah, I know the NFL has collective bargaining problems, but the last time I checked the Krafts have made money after more money with this football team, complete with Patriot Place to prove it.
So why hadn't this gotten done already?
The truth is the Pats have gotten Brady cheap the last few years, in no small part because he was the consummate team guy, extremely conscious of how his contract would impact the club's ability to sign other players. In a perfect world you would think he would be rewarded for this, but who knows?
But he no longer is the wide-eyed kid he was when he first came in here. He is 33 now, and has become a celebrity in ways that once would have been unimaginable, a football fantasy come to life. And now he looks around and sees rookie quarterback Sam Bradford sign a six-year contract with the Rams for $78 million with $50 million guaranteed, no matter that Bradford is coming off shoulder surgery and has never played a down in the NFL.
Is it any wonder why he might be a tad miffed, even if he's much too savvy to go public with it?
So why are the Patriots waiting on this?
Brady is the face of this franchise.
He should publicly be treated as such.