What if Shaq had joined the Thunder?
Too bad Shaquille O'Neal didn't come to Oklahoma City last summer instead of joining the Celtics. He could have been the Big Friendly instead of Red Auershaq
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NAME THAT SHAQ
Upon Shaquille O'Neal's arrival in Boston, a Twitter poll asked fans to choose a new moniker for the man who already leads the planet in nicknames.
The listed choices were Red Auershaq, Shaqachusetts, The Big Leprechaun, The Big Shamrock, Tip-in O'Neal, Big Adult, The Big Dig It and The Green Monster.
At last check, Green Monster (32 percent) was ahead, followed by Big Shamrock (25 percent), Big Leprechaun (16 percent) and Shaqachusetts (14 percent).
The 7-foot-1, 325-pound O'Neal said he was once a T-ball All-Star and a high school first baseman with the "world's biggest strike zone."
He was known as Shaqqie Robinson (Jackie Robinson) as a little kid. When he pitched, he was The Big Black Unit (Randy Johnson).
O'Neal was respectful last summer during his "Shaq Vs." episode against St. Louis Cardinal slugger Albert Pujols.
"Usually I try to get into the mind of my opponent," O'Neal said, "but I don't think it's wise to talk smack to a man who always has a bat in his hands."
Serge Ibaka from the Republic of Congo could have added a fifth language to his already impressive repertoire — Lingala (Congolese dialect), French, Spanish, English and Shaqanese.
Had the acquisition of Shaq Fu taken place, hopefully he would have approved of our city. Shaqalicious likes the Waffle House, judging from his Tennessee visit last August during which he left a $30 tip on a $20 tab, and we must lead the free world in Waffle Houses per capita around here.
The Big Maravich posed like a statue for an hour in Harvard Square last month, unbeknownst to teammates.
Celtics coach Doc Rivers, a straight-shooter, said this of the Big Shamrock's presence in Boston: "He brings us something to talk about off the floor, probably as much as any player we've had. I'm good with that, as long as he brings that same interest on the floor.
"Shaq gets it in a lot of ways, you know. He loves his job, he plays the game, but he also understands that it's not so serious that you can't enjoy life and have fun with people. The people are the ones who pay to watch the games. I would say that he gets that as much as any star."
Boston is numb to hall-of-famers walking its street, yet the city quickly has been drawn to Red Auershaq.
The Big Leprechaun becoming a public spectacle means little, if anything, to his new teammates, but it could have served as a wonderful deflection of attention to Thunder players who are comfortable blending in with the locals.
National exposure has intensified on Oklahoma City since last year's 27-win improvement that resulted in a 50-win season and a playoff berth. The Green Monster could have sent the Thunder's Q rating even higher.
Having Big Daddy on the Thunder roster would have been undeniably intriguing.
The Celtics face the Thunder on Sunday night at 6 inside Oklahoma City Arena. Shaqachusetts is battling a bruised right knee and has missed the last three games. He made the trip, but it's unknown if he will play.
We must give the Shaqnificent one our best regards. Let him know what he missed, what we missed.
John Rohde: 475-3099. John Rohde can be heard Monday-Friday from 6-7 p.m. on The Sports Animal Network, including AM-640 and FM-98.1.