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Shaq apparently taking his rehab seriously

Mar 22, 2010, 12:56 PM EDT

NBA_o'neal1_250.jpgSigns that you know Shaquille O’Neal and his team are still in the honeymoon phase:

  1. He actually shows on screens when the coaching staff asks him to. (Well actually…)
  2. He hasn’t completely ripped the team’s star player. (If you think he won’t one day rip LeBron, you weren’t paying attention when he left Phoenix. If Steve Nash isn’t spared from Shaq’s wrath, I don’t know who would be.)
  3. He’s actually working to stay in shape.

That last one’s pretty important. Injuries have never really been Shaq’s problem, but working to recover from them while staying in shape has been. He’s notorious for his slow recovery periods, and when he left a Cavs game with a broken thumb, I won’t pretend it didn’t create some parallels to his infamous toe injuries.

I expected Shaq to return in time for the playoffs, but out of shape and perhaps unable to resume play at his previous level.

I was wrong. At least according to this piece of anecdotal evidence by Brian Windhorst of the Cleveland Plain Dealer:

During the first quarter while his teammates were out playing the
Pistons, Shaquille O’Neal was in the weight room at The Q working out
and doing some light rehab with his thumb, which is out of a cast and
now in a small splint. He wasn’t on a scale, but to the naked eye he appears to have lost
weight since he went down with the injury just about a month ago.

When he left to go to Florida after the surgery he was telling
teammates that he’d not just be back before the end of the regular
season, but that he’d be in better shape when he comes back than went
he left. Nothing can prepare anyone for playing in real games and it will
probably take a while for him to get some rhythm when he does return.
But if there were any concerns about O’Neal letting himself go because
he’s not playing, take it from me — it appears to have been quite the
opposite.

Shaq is pretty essential for the Cleveland’s playoff run, and to know that O’Neal isn’t treating his time off the court like a vacation has to bring a few sighs of relief from Cavs fans. There will still be some adjustment to work out how O’Neal and Antawn Jamison play alongside each other upon Shaq’s return, but the two are fairly complementary. It should only be a matter of time before battle station Cavaliers is fully operational, and if that doesn’t strike fear into the hearts of men, I don’t know what could.

  1. Joey - Mar 22, 2010 at 1:21 PM

    If this report is credible… wow. For the first time in his career SHAQ is acting like an athlete. If Shaq could get himself back into the type of shape he was in during his first 5-7 years in the league, I bet he could still start and dominate the league for another 5 years. Its too bad its taken him this long to show real dedication to his craft.

  2. AFDB - Mar 22, 2010 at 2:10 PM

    SHAQ is one of the best centers I have seen play the game. kobe was a hater/self serving, who had to have all the spotlight; Shaq gave want to be prettyboy wade a ring to soon(ungrateful)and nash (NO DEFENSE)self was just half ass playing when Shaq was there. So, lets be real and stop downing players when they get older because all player have or will come to that crossroad. Charles Barkley need to get one face and keep it, and stop riding whatever wagon that is going good(hater)he wish he could have player longer.

  3. afdb - Mar 22, 2010 at 2:14 PM

    where is my comment

  4. Jeff - Mar 22, 2010 at 2:22 PM

    Joey, I agree 100%. If he would have realized this years ago, he would be dominating still. C’mon SHAQ, please give this team the effort it deserves.

  5. Jeff - Mar 22, 2010 at 2:31 PM

    Just for the record, Shaq is one of my favorite players(personality/talent). It’s the 30-40lbs of weight that I am referring to. Trust me I’ve dealt with managing the extra(30-40lbs) weight my whole life. It makes a world of difference.

  6. AFDB - Mar 22, 2010 at 2:32 PM

    Shaq, is one of the greatest centers to play the game. Shaq has played really good this year and with the Suns. Shaq only mistakes was playing alongside self serving kobe(its all about me)bryant,Shaq gave want to be prettyboy wade a title to soon(ungrateful) and last be not least NO DEFENSE nash who just played like dodo when Shaq was there. Stop hating charles barkly cause every player will cross the same crossroad that Shaq is going through. SECOND COMMENT WILL YOU PLEASE POST THE TRUTH

  7. Teck - Mar 22, 2010 at 2:57 PM

    I agree AFDB Shaq, is one of the greatest centers to play the game. Shaq has played really good this year.

  8. Tyrone - Mar 22, 2010 at 3:34 PM

    For the FIRST time in his career Shaq is acting like an athlete..hold on let me repeat that for the FIRST time in his career Shaq is acting like an athlete.
    I would advise you to go look at a list of his accomplishments since he’s been in the NBA. When did you first discover he played basketball? 2 years ago? How many all-star appearances?..how many finals? How many RINGS? You’ve got to be kidding me!!!!

  9. Dana - Mar 22, 2010 at 3:36 PM

    I’m sorry AFDB but Shaq is and was the most selfish sob on each team! He refused to stay in shape even when he as at his peak! He was just as guilty as Kobe of being an ass and he’s fake! He can try that crap in Lebronland, OH if he wants and he’s going to see just how far he’s fallen. Plus, dude sleeps with his boys’ wives and girlfriends. Find another “role model”.

  10. bobdevo - Mar 22, 2010 at 4:38 PM

    Apparently Rob Mahoney got his Basketball Expert badge out of a Crackerjacks box. Shaq is taking this all VERY seriously. The Cavs won’t need him unless they play the Magic, and he will be there to neutralize Dwight Howard.
    Then, it’s on to the championship round, where he would like nothing better than putting the hurt on Kobe and helping LeBron James win his FIRST championship ring.

  11. Big Mike - Mar 22, 2010 at 10:06 PM

    Rehabbing?? Seriously? That’s why Shaq came flying up behind me in his tricked out International RXT riding my ass on US rt. 77 south into Akron Saturday night..trust me it was him…I caught up to him (90+) in traffic… Florida plate “DUNKONU”…Superman hitch cover…dude was rolling into LeBron’s old hood for some ghetto party – exiting Copley Rd. Damn, even if I were from down there I would NEVER invite a teammate to A-Kron hood…those boys should stay in Cleveland or jump on a private jet to go somewhere to party…BUT PARTY HE WAS!! It wasn’t his ex wife or someone in his entourage borrowing his wheels! Seriously?? I know guys can go out without drinking… but to Akron? Please…..Just thinking about it makes me want to drink. Coolest thing about Akron is Rubber City Clothing. Best t-shirt – “Akron. 1825. Where the weak are killed and eaten” Sums it up. Cavs lose in 2nd round. What a joke.

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