BOSTON — He's the NBA's most eclectic character. The man who has starred in movies, released albums, has his own TV show and showed up at Harvard Square to play a statue last week. Oh, and was once one of the most dominant big men in NBA history.
So what were the odds Shaquille O'Neal wouldn't make his first basket as a Boston Celtic count?
Just moments into yesterday's season-opener, Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo served up an alley-oop pass, and Shaq discovered the fountain of youth, elevating to throw the ball down with vintage authority.
Thank goodness the NBA reinforces its baskets (one of the reasons it does is because of the young backboard-wrecking Shaq!) or someone could have been hurt. That dunk kicked off an impressed debut for O'Neal with the Green.
"Shaq was great," said Celtics guard Ray Allen. "He softened the defense tonight. He was able to get to the line. (Rajon) Rondo got into the paint and he finished it off. He didn't play big minutes, but he was very effective."
Starting at center, the Big Shamrock had nine points and seven rebounds in just 18:09, causing the crowd to go crazy every time he entered the game, and giving him an ovation every time he left the court.
"He was huge for us," said Paul Pierce. "The numbers don't tell the story of how big he was. Shaq drew about five fouls and got them into the penalty, and that is what his presence brings.
"I think him and Kevin (Garnett) are really feeding off each other. I think he opens up things for Kevin and Kevin opens him up. I think that's where our greatest strength is, and I'm glad he's on our team."