Every morning, we compile the links of the day and dump them here… highlighting the big storyline. Because there's nothing quite as satisfying as a good morning dump.
Here's what the Celtics have learned about O'Neal. He is trim, focused and hungry to begin. Shaq mulled over a trendy downtown townhouse in the Back Bay before choosing a home in suburban Sudbury instead.
"I'm out in the woods, in the middle of nowhere," he said. "I've got my whole season set. I chose to live way out there so I can get up, go to practice, come home, take a nap, then get up and go to the Thoreau Club [in Concord] and do some more work.
"I want my concentration to be right where it should be. No distractions."
[...] "For once in my career, I won't have to hold anybody's hand and they won't have to hold mine," he said. "I'm surrounded by veterans. We had a great battle [last Thursday] at HealthPoint. It was something I never had before — three, four, really great players all in one pickup game.
"It was me, Kevin [Garnett], Marquis [Daniels] and the Turkish guy [Semih Erden] against Ray [Allen], Paul [Pierce], Jermaine [O'Neal] and Big Baby. Amazing. Really high intensity."
I want that "hold somebody's hand line" to be about LeBron… I really do.
Add this to the pile of stories where Shaq says the right thing. And add this to the piles of stories that we all desperately want to believe but we all STILL, for some reason, say "well, let's hope he's being honest."
I know that Celtics fans are skeptical of Shaq's seemingly new attitude. All I can say is that the twilight of one's career can do funny things to an ego. When you come to the honest realization that you've only got a year or two left and you're not "the man" anymore… your attitude changes.
So it seems that Shaq is coming to grips with his basketball mortality. And when the end is staring you in the face, you do things differently. Suddenly certain things that uses to be a problem don't matter anymore. You just know that you want to go out on top. You want to capture that moment of youthful exuberance one… last…. time…
Why do you think all these veterans sign with contenders? They're quitting soon. They're old… but they want to feel young again and celebrate with a champagne shower and parade. They don't want their careers to end with their heads hanging and ice packs on their knees and ankles while some beat writer asks "so what went wrong?"
So I believe Shaq. I believe he wants this and he's focused. I believe he's ready to at least try to deliver on his words.
Today is media day…. so come back throughout the day for all the fun that will be trickling out of Waltham.
The rest of the links:
ESPN Boston: 10 questions the Celtics need to answer | WEEI: Why Avery Bradley's road to the Celtics 'Make Sense' | Globe: Celtics hope a vertical jump gets them back on track | 5 issues as training camp begins | SLAM: Top 50: Kevin Garnett #29 | The CMSB: Tommy Heinsohn speaks at Red Claws media event | Hoopsworld: Ranking the NBA head coaches