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Shaq On Why He Chose Celtics Over Hawks

November 23, 2010

This past summer future Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal was a free agent and had the option to go anywhere. In this post game interview, O’Neal says he had a better chance to get a ring in Boston than Atlanta. Personally, I think if Atlanta offered him more money, he would be an ATLien right now.

From Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

With everything else being equal, including the money, Shaquille O’Neal said he chose the Celtics over the Hawks in the offseason because it gave him a better shot at a fifth NBA title.

Boston won the 2008 NBA championship and lost to the Lakers in the 2010 Finals.

“These guys are one step away,” O’Neal said before Boston played the Hawks Monday night at Philips Arena. “But I love this town. I’ve had a home in Buckhead for 15 years.”

O’Neal was interested in joining the Hawks over the summer. But after Atlanta balked at increasing its offer to more than the veteran’s minimum salary, O’Neal signed with the Celtics for the same amount.

In addition to their reluctance to push their payroll above the luxury tax, the Hawks were concerned whether O’Neal would accept a back-up role behind center Al Horford and mesh with a relatively young team. He’s one of five Celtics players with at least 12 years in the league.

“They have a blend of veteran players with the core of their team, and it’s a lot easier to fit in a vet like Shaq,” Hawks coach Larry Drew said. “If we brought him in here, it would be a little tougher. I don’t think his personality would have fit with our guys. It makes more sense to have veteran guys around him.”

Celtics coach Doc Rivers said there have been no issues with O’Neal accepting his role on a team with established players and strong personalities.

“We have good veterans,” he said. “We are going to do it our way, nobody else’s way, no matter who comes in the locker room. None of that individual stuff will be tolerated.”

No circles

Rivers was asked if the Celtics circled this game on their schedule since Atlanta swept the season series 4-0 in 2009-10.

“That circle stuff is for you [media],” he said. “Look, they handled us last year all year. Obviously you want to win this game if you are built normal. Other than that, we’ve circled the whole season.”

Drew said Hawks players Joe Johnson (hand), Marvin Williams (knee) and Mike Bibby (Achilles’) are still nursing injuries. Forward Mo Evans (knee) is OK, but trying to get his timing.

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