Shaquille O’Neal Uses Nude Photo Shoot Excuse for Missing Celtics’ Preseason Tilt

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When you're 38 years old and suffering from hip arthritis, it's not easy to lace 'em up for 82 games every year, plus preseason. So it's understandable that Shaquille O'Neal wasn't able to play on Wednesday night when the Celtics took on the Knicks in preseason action at Madison Square Garden.

His explanation, however, was less understandable.

"I'm going to do a photo shoot like Amare tomorrow morning," O'Neal told The Associated Press before the game. "I gotta get ready."

Shaq was referring, of course, to the nude photograph of Knicks star Amare Stoudemire that appeared recently in ESPN The Magazine's "Body Issue." The 6-foot-10, 240-pound Stoudemire looked lean and quite physically fit in the magazine photo, leaping into a pool with his left hand strategically placed; the 7-foot-1, 325-pound O'Neal would probably need about five hands to cover up not only his private area, but a lot of excess body fat as well.

Shaq says he's been consciously trying to slim down this year. He's stopped eating his mom's delicious home-cooked specialties, like her fried chicken and cheeseburgers. He's in the training room at the Celtics' practice facility all the time, working to get in game shape for this season.

But there are still probably very few people out there interested in seeing the big man naked.

Next time, Shaq, just say your hip hurts. It'll save us all the agony of the mental picture.

NESN.com will showcase one Moment of Shaq every day until the Celtics open the season against the Heat on Oct. 26 at the TD Garden.

Wednesday, Oct. 13: Shaq's got the power

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