EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

September 28, 2010

Hollywood comes to Boston

On Pro Basketball
Michael Muldoon

WALTHAM — Few things in sports are more mundane than Media Day.

But for the 2010-11 Boston Celtics, nothing is run of the mill.

Rajon Rondo was wrapping up an interview when Shaquille O'Neal, all 7-1, 350 pounds of him — he's listed at 325, but 325 doesn't jiggle like that — planted a grandmotherly kiss on the prickly point guard's cheek.

The only thing more oversized than Shaq and Big Baby Davis are their outlandish personalities.

This team shouldn't lack for melodrama, headlines, victories and TMZ appearances.

Shaq, of course, is larger than life. At 38, his game is nowhere near when he was being called one of the top 10 players of all-time, but he is still the class clown who lives for attention.

If the hoops doesn't go so well but he gets another reality show, he seems like he might be OK with that.

Shaq vs. Modesty ... Shaq wins every time.

Last season gave us the Shrek (Davis)-Donkey (Nate Robinson) sideshow.

Big Baby could be muscled out.

Shaq and Robinson were talking about making a rap video, according to Paul Pierce. Considering Shaq's previous rap efforts, let's hope Robinson is another Lil Wayne.

If the Big Shamrocker and the Little Leprecon Artist doesn't work, Shaq could have a future as a Bond villain.

Sorry Yaphet Kotto, but Shaq was born to be Mr. Big. He also could apprise the Jaws role played by Richard Kiel, who is 71 years old.

No cracks about who is older or slower, Kiel or Shaq.

Kevin Garnett's shtick is made for Hollywood. The wild-eyed look and blood-curdling, pregame screams are the most compelling in sport this side of Ray Lewis.

The gossip columnists should be able to feast on Delonte West. There was the frightening incident last September when he was pulled over for speeding on a motorcycle while carrying two loaded handguns and a loaded shotgun in a guitar case.

He became an Internet sensation last spring when the rumor spread like wildfire that he was seeing teammate LeBron James' mother.

When West was asked about it yesterday, a PR flak from Regan Communications jumped in like he was jumping on a live grenade.

"Basketball questions only," he sniffed indignantly.

With all this going on, it's no wonder the Inside Track and a couple of shock jocks were on hand.

Much like the Hollywood set, don't expect the C's to face Mike Wallace-type questions from Comcast, which broadcasts their games. One of the Comcast personalities was decked out in a loud lime-green dress.

Media Day couldn't have been too much fun for the players. First, there is dealing with the media, then there is the signing everything in sight.

There were so many oversized bags filled with autographed basketballs it looked like Santa had just visited the Duggars.

The C's don't have 19 kids and counting, more like 19 grizzled vets and counting. Some of them are positively ancient with Shaq, Garnett, Paul Pierce, Jermaine O'Neal and Ray Allen having a combined 72 years of experience.

In deference to their age and accomplishments, the team photographers walked on egg shells around them.

Not so with the young guys.

Rookie first-round pick Avery Bradley should be ready for the catwalks in Paris after the paces he was put through.

"Arms folded. Wingspan shot. Ball at the waist, now at the hip, at your side, dribbling."

Curly Neal never did that much with a basketball. And just when he thought he was finally done, he got the bad news.

"Now let's do the same thing with the black background."

If the reticent 19-year-old rookie from Tacoma, Wash., thought he was done, there was bad news. Next came promos for the NBA Network.

As a pitchman, Billy Mays, he ain't, but he gave it the old Celtic try.

And then it was autographing basketballs until his hand fell off.

Get used to it, kid. This fame stuff isn't always easy.

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E-mail Michael Muldoon at mmuldoon@eagletribune.com.