When to say when

All about the 2009-2010 NBA Season

Moderator: Brett

When to say when

Postby rlee » Wed Jan 02, 2008 5:16 am

When To Say When
by Todd Spehr
411mania.com

Shaq has copped plenty for his sub-par performance this year. Has he played too long? It's a question many NBA players have asked themselves before... and sometimes given the wrong answer. 411's Todd Spehr examines O'Neal and others.

My guess is the hardest thing a professional athlete faces isn't the journey, the practices, the games or everything that goes with it. The hardest thing, rather, is when to hang ‘em up. When to call it quits. When to walk away. It has to be. Because when you say no more, you kiss good-bye the competition, the camaraderie, the teammates, the games. You kiss good-bye everything.

And the sad thing is, sometimes guys don't know when that time is.

Now, before I get to into this, I'm gonna talk about Shaquille O'Neal. I already know what you're thinking: This guy's going into a "Shaq's over the hill" rant. Well, I'm not. Plenty others have done that and besides, he hasn't disgraced himself totally in my eyes yet. Yet. (I even expected big things of Shaq, ranking him fourth in my fantasy center column earlier this year.) Instead, I'll try to hit the point for Shaq when it's time for him to stop playing.

People forget this, but you know O'Neal was first-team All-NBA center in '06 right? That's just eighteen months ago, still kind of close in the rearview. What about the MVP runner-up in '05? I mean, this is very recent history we're talking about here. But history is exactly that… history. And in all honesty, Shaq has plummeted to new depths this year; plenty of un-Shaq-like performances with scattered vintage efforts that never fail to suck me into the whole Maybe he's still got it line of thinking.

(While I'm at it, what's with Diesel taking just four shots in 29 minutes last week at Philly? C'mon, everyone has taken pot-shots at O'Neal this season for being in mass decline, but seriously, if he's not getting touches – and that game isn't the only example – then he's not going to produce. Maybe that's why the Heat waived Penny Hardaway, because he was more than willing to hit Shaq in the post time and time again.)

Now here's the thing: Just what is Shaq's time limit?

O'Neal will be on the Heat's books until the conclusion of the 2010 season (due for more than $60 million in that period) which seems like an awful long time from now. And if this year is any indicator, his decline by then will be somewhere between assistance-in-running-up-the-floor and can-he-still-dunk? OK, maybe not that bad, but something tells me it won't be pretty.

What about this: We see how he finishes up this season – he has been a picture of health thus far; perfect attendance before last Friday's game against Orlando – then roll the dice one more time. O'Neal still does average 14 points and eight boards, and let me tell you, some centers (Hi to Erick Dampier if he's reading this) would donate vital organs for those digits. Then again, those numbers are hardly Shaq-esque either and will they drop further next year? A valid point. I wonder if he's thought about this at all?

My brother and I have this argument all the time. He can't stand it when guys, especially legends, play well beyond their time. His go-to-guy in this conversation is Hakeem Olajuwon, whom he just couldn't stand to watch at the end of his brilliant career, especially that final year in Toronto. Sure, Olajuwon was well past his best -even his health suggested his body was well past the grind - but why, knowing this, did he hang around? Same goes for Mitch Richmond, perennial All-Star and probably the most underrated player of the ‘90s, who was deemed useless by Phil Jackson and "won" a ring on the end of the Laker bench in '02. Gary Payton is another. He certainly should've been gone probably a year or so after the LA Experiment; he wasn't The Glove at the end, he was an Oven Mitt.

The motives aren't too important but are noteworthy. Some guys (like MJ) just operate on competition, others stick around to just "play the game," some more for the lifestyle, fewer because they can, and the minority - I know Robert Parish is one, he made most of his money in the last three years of his 21 seasons - do it for the financial reward. The point is perhaps these guys stay around for the wrong reasons, when instead there should be one: Can you still play the game effectively?

If you look at the list of guys from that previous paragraph and asked them that question, how would they answer? Hakeem? Nope. Richmond? Probably not. Payton? In my opinion, definitely not. Throw in Ewing – No way. Perhaps Glen Rice? No. And of course, there are exceptions to every rule. And that shortlist is MJ, Stockton and Kareem as basically the only old guys – professional athlete old, not human being old - who were still effective. And I don't care what anyone says about Mike being washed up in Washington; for him to do what he did on those knees from a statistical standpoint is remarkable. Instead people focus on how he wasn't the Mike of Old, which really, if you were expecting that guy, was really stupid.

Anyway, that should be the measuring stick: Can I still do it?

Some, like Bill Russell and Chicago-Mike, left on top, but that scenario certainly can't be everybody. Is there middle ground… half-way between prime and past it? And then there's the argument: How much does this matter anyway? Guys achieve a lot, and that should be the legacy; haven't they earned the right to play as long as they want to anyway? But when you get a situation like with my brother (who thinks of Olajuwon in Canadian terms instead of the legend that he was) then there is an underlying issue. Same with O'Neal today. There's probably a new generation of fans who wouldn't even remember the dominant Shaq of just five years ago. Trying to play through it sometimes doesn't help matters, so should O'Neal get out now?

That's something only he knows.
rlee
President
 
Posts: 7659
Joined: Mon Apr 09, 2007 5:42 pm
Location: sacramento

Postby rlee » Wed Jan 02, 2008 5:04 pm

"Raptors general manager Glen Grunwald described the acquisition of Olajuwon as "a gamble and I think we lost on it" --

"Something I always said was that I wanted to try playing elsewhere," said Olajuwon. "For years I saw other guys getting traded or leaving as free agents and I just wanted to experience it. It was valuable to me."
"Some might look at my time in Toronto as a failure. It's easy to make judgments. But to be a successful person, you can't be afraid to fail. I'm an explorer."

"I didn't come to Toronto for it to be like it was in Houston, with me being the main player. I came to Toronto to perform a secondary role and I accepted that role. Things did not work out the way they could have, but I have no regrets."


and from Hoops Analyst:

"Context is everything. In the rearview mirror, the Hakeem signing and the early 2000s Raptors are not very exciting to follow. Indeed, it seems unlikely that anyone would be particularly excited about the Raptors' and their acquisition of a 39-year old center. But at the time, the Raptors had the most exciting young player in the NBA (Vince Carter) and had a nice playoff run in 2000-01. The thought was that getting a bona fide center like Hakeem would turn the team into NBA finalists. In reality, Hakeem had been declining for years and continued to do so with Toronto in 2001-02 (7.1 ppg, 6.0 rpg) and the team struggled with other injury problems, most notably Carter, and the team barely made the playoffs."
rlee
President
 
Posts: 7659
Joined: Mon Apr 09, 2007 5:42 pm
Location: sacramento

Re: When to say when

Postby rlee » Sun Jul 27, 2014 2:49 am

rlee
President
 
Posts: 7659
Joined: Mon Apr 09, 2007 5:42 pm
Location: sacramento

Re: When to say when

Postby rlee » Mon Feb 23, 2015 4:16 pm

From Bethlehem Shoals:

" It's cool that Garnett will play out his contract in Minnesota instead of subjecting us to a sad image like Hakeem in Toronto."
rlee
President
 
Posts: 7659
Joined: Mon Apr 09, 2007 5:42 pm
Location: sacramento

Re: When to say when

Postby rlee » Tue Sep 27, 2016 4:01 pm

rlee
President
 
Posts: 7659
Joined: Mon Apr 09, 2007 5:42 pm
Location: sacramento


Return to The Current NBA Season

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 3 guests

cron