Athlete. Rapper. Actor. Endorsement superstar. Reality TV personality.
And now, at the ripe old age of 38 … author?
That's the way he put it, anyway, when he was introduced on Monday afternoon in Waltham as the newest member of the Celtics.
"For me," Shaq said at his introductory news conference, "I always talk about my book. When I'm done and I close my book, I would like to have either five or six championships. In my eyes, if I don't get those five or six, I'll be a little down on myself. For a kid from the projects of Newark, New Jersey, I think I've had a pretty dominant career. But for me personally, my book, I would like to see Shaquille O'Neal have five or six championships."
It's all about his book. And while Shaq has already written a masterpiece, he's still looking for a final chapter. He's still looking for more championships.
The all-time greats in this game have all left their mark by winning rings. Bill Russell, who stands alone in the history of American sports, won 11. Michael Jordan won six; Magic Johnson won five, and Kobe Bryant has since equaled him.
Shaq is right there in that elite class. He's one of the 10 best players ever to touch a basketball. He's already got the scoring titles, the All-Star selections, all kinds of individual hardware. But when it comes to winning, you can never get enough. Shaq is still hungry for more.
"I’ve done everything individually that I set out to do," he said. "Now toward the latter part of my career, it’s all about winning. When I came in, I always wanted to compete with Bill Russell’s titles. That’s not going to happen, but I’d like to almost get half of what he got."
Shaq won three titles in L.A. with Kobe between 2000 and 2002. He later won another with Dwyane Wade and the Heat four years later. But the reason Shaq has landed in Boston is simple: He's not done yet. He can't be.
"Since 1992, all I've ever wanted to do is just leave my mark and win championships," he said. "At the millennium, I was able to win three in a row and then go to Miami and win another one. When you win and you keep winning, you just want to keep winning."
Shaq couldn't make it work with Steve Nash in Phoenix, nor with LeBron James in Cleveland. But now he can give it another go with Rajon Rondo, the veteran Big Three and a deep Celtic bench — not to mention one of the best coaches in the game in Doc Rivers.
There were a lot of talented players out there on the free-agent market this summer willing to play for the veterans' minimum. They were younger, livelier and healthier than O'Neal, who turns 39 next March and recently underwent thumb surgery.
But the Celtics went with Shaq. He's older, he's wiser, and he gets what it's all about. He's here to win, and he's spent the past decade proving he knows how.
Shaq's still writing his book, and he's hoping the final chapter will be the best. He was brought here to win the Celtics another championship, and if he can do it, he'll have one amazing manuscript on his hands.
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