Celtics

The Big GM: Shaq to Orlando?

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The Big GM: Shaq to Orlando?

Yesterday afternoon, Shaquille ONeal released a statement claiming that he had turned down an opportunity to interview for the Orlando Magics vacant general manager position.

Well, I have it on authority that Shaq was lying. In fact, he did interview for the job on Thursday morning in a suite at Orlandos Disney Yacht Club Resort.

Magic chairman Dan DeVos was pulled away at the last second on urgent business, so he sent CEO Alex Martins and Senior Vice President Pat Williams to handle the interview.

If you guys think hes worthy, DeVos told them, Ill fly back for a second meeting.

The interview was set for 10 am.

Here's how it all played out:

(Shaq walks in at 10:15, wearing a big smile and a novelty Goofy hat.)
Shaq: Well, well. The great Pat Williams. The man who brought me into the league

(Williams reluctantly shakes ONeals hand)

Williams: Shaquille ONeal, the man who stabbed an entire city in the back

(There's a brief, awkward silence)

Shaq, Dan DeVos unfortunately couldnt make it. He sends his deepest apologies. And you know our CEO Alex Mart

(Martins grabs O'Neal's hand)

Martins: Mr. ONeal, great to see you again. Really looking forward to this conversation. And if you dont mind me saying: The Goofy bit? Fantastic!

Shaq: Thanks, Alex. Im very excited for the chance to serve the great community of Orlando. And please, Mr. ONeal was my father. You can call me: The Big Goof Troop.
Martins: (laughing hysterically) You get a load of this guy, Pat? Hey, can I get either of you something to drink before we start? Coffee? Soda? Glass of scotch?

Williams: Were OK, Alex.

Martins: Shaq, you sure? Just one glass?

ONeal: Im straight, Alex. I don't drink booze. Only Shaqahol.

Martins: (Hysterical laughter)

Williams: Shaq, we appreciate you coming in today. We know it's a crazy time of year, and we dont want this to take any longer than it has to, so Alex and I are going alternate asking you a few questions. Just to get a feel for where you stand on things. Then well break, bring Mr. DeVos up to speed and move on from there. Should we get started?

Shaq: Let's do it, fellas. Im all EARS!

(He starts jiggling his floppy Goofy ears. Martins spits coffee all over the table.)

Williams: OK. Well obviously you know the biggest problem facing our organization: What are we going to do about Dwight Howard? But before we get there, just for some perspective, tell me how you think weve handled his situation so far. Would you have done it differently? What would you have changed? Have you forgiven yourself for brutally crippling this franchise in 1996?

Shaq: Good one, Pat. But seriously, Im glad you asked about Dwight. The way I see it, in Dwight Howard you have a guy whos just trying to be me. You have a guy whos trying to call himself Superman. Whos trying to fake the funk on something I already dunked. And thats weak. That's what I like to call "fake toughness." People want to say that hes the most dominant big man in our league, but we all know thats just because there arent any big men of MY caliber. So um, yeah. Thats pretty much what Id do differently.

Williams: OK, but that doesnt really answer the ques

Martins: Easy there, Pat! That counts as a question. My turn now. Shaq, heres what I want to know: What was it like working with Nick Nolte in Blue Chips?

Shaq: Oh, you mean, two-time Shaqademy Award winner Nick Nolte?

Martins: Aha! I knew it! Cool dude?

Shaq: Nick Nolte is a legend. A great, great man.

Martins: Boom!

(He throws ONeal a fist bump)

All right. Back to you, Pat.

Williams: Umm OK. Shaq, I understand that you and Dwight havent always had the best relationship, but I should tell you that if we bring you on board, it would be with the expectation that you and him can work together. You see, weve already been screwed over by one seven-foot egomaniac, and were not ready to go through that again. That being said, were also realists. If Dwight ultimately wants out, well have to give him an out. So, put on your GM hat for a second

Martins: Nah, stick with the Goofy one!

Williams: Shaq, Im sorry about him. Please, just put on your GM hat, and pretend Im the GM of another team in the league. Any team. Your choice. Now I want you to give me a call and pitch a legitimate trade offer for Dwight Howard. Who do you think we can get? What do you think we need? How do you sleep at night? And action!

Shaq: OK, OK. We can do this.

(Speaking into an imaginary phone)

Hello, operator. Can you please connect me to Mitch Kupchaks office

(He winks at Williams)

Williams: Ring, ring. Hello, this is Mitch Kupchak.

Shaq: Mitch, this is Shaquille ONeal, the new GM of the Orlando Magic. How are you today?
Williams: Oh, hey there, Shaq. Hope all is well. Let me guess, youre calling about Dwight Howard?'
Shaq: Actually, no. Im just calling to say: Look at me now, bitch! Have fun rebuilding SUCKAAAAA!!!

(Shaq slams down the fake phone and high fives a cackling Martins. Williams is stunned)
Martins: All right, Shaq. Question No. 2 from me. Its a little personal, but I figure if were going to be working together

Would you mind signing this Kazaam poster for my son? Hes a huge fan.
Shaq: Oh, of course. Hand it over and I'll give it the old Shaq Hancock.
Martins: Ha!
Shaq: Whats your boy's name?
Martins: Alex.
Shaq: Alex Jr.?
Martins: Nope Just Alex. Pat?

(Williams is shaking his head. Beyond frustrated)
Williams: OK, last question from me: We need a coach. Any suggestions?
Shaq: Well, Pat. As you know, I had the pleasure of playing for many legendary coaches over my career. The great Dale Brown. The great Phil Jackson. The great Pat Riley. And they all played an integral role in me becoming the most complete, dominant and devastating big man of all time. But honestly, you can't help but wonder how different their legacies might have been if they'd never had the chance to coach Shaquille O'Neal I'll just leave at that.

Williams: Thank you, Shaq. That was enlightening. Anything else, Alex?

Martins: Me? Oh, I've heard enough. And I think I speak for the entire Magic organization when I say: Shaquille O'Neal, it has been a pleasure. You'll be hearing from us very soon.

(They all stand up, shake hands and Shaq leaves the room)

Martins: Soooo, pretty great, right?

(Williams gets up, pours himself a glass of scotch and walks away without saying a word. Martins, unaffected, leans back in his chair and takes a long, satisfying sip of coffee.)

The Big Goof Troop Ha!

Rich can be reached at rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrich_levine

WATCH: Celtics vs. Mavericks

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WATCH: Celtics vs. Mavericks

Tune into NBC Sports Boston to watch the Celtics play the Mavericks in Dallas. You can also click here to watch the Celtics livestream presented by Nissan on the NBC Sports App. Coverage begins at 7:30 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live Presented by ACE Ticket.

- Game preview: C's need to play Smart in Dallas

- Channel Finder: Make sure you know where to watch

[SHOP: Gear up, Celtics fans!]

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Celtics-Mavericks preview: C's need to play Smart vs. Dallas

Celtics-Mavericks preview: C's need to play Smart vs. Dallas

Get it done. No excuses.
 
That has been how the Boston Celtics have played most of this season.
 
And if there’s one Celtics player who embodies that on this team, it’s Marcus Smart.
 
The fourth-year guard has struggled all season with his shot-making, but when the game is on the line in the fourth quarter you can count on Smart to be on the floor.

THE WINNING STREAK

He has been among the many reasons Boston has won 15 in a row, which is the fifth-longest winning streak in franchise history.
 
And Smart will be among the Celtics looking to keep it going tonight against the Dallas Mavericks.
 
Most likely, Smart will make an impact with his defense, which is among the best in the NBA.

How good?
 
Smart has a defensive rating of 93.4 (points allowed per 100 possessions) which is tops among all guards in the NBA, and ranks third among all players who have played in at least 10 games this season.
 
But in the 110-99 win over the Hawks, Smart knocked down a couple of 3-pointers which was a big deal considering how mightily he has struggled shooting the ball this season.
 
Smart is shooting 27.3 percent from the field as well as from 3-point range – both career lows.
 
However, he’s also averaging career highs in assists (4.5) and rebounds (5.1) this season.
 
And while he certainly doesn’t appear to be affected by the shooting struggles, he acknowledges that it is something that he can’t help but think about from time to time.
 
“It does affect you, especially if you’ve been working (on shooting) all summer,” Smart said. “At the same time, I don’t take as many shots. But like I said, we got other guys who are playing well. My job is to get them the ball and do whatever I can, go back down the floor, play defense and get the ball again.”

In Boston’s win over Atlanta, Smart spent a good amount of time defending Marco Belinelli who had four points on 2-for-10 shooting compared to 19 points on 6-for-10 shooting when these two teams met earlier this month.
 
Coach Brad Stevens pointed to the job Smart did on Belinelli, in addition to the clutch offensive rebound he was able to snag and quickly put back up and in that gave Boston a 103-95 game with about two minutes to play.
 
“He was really good,” Stevens said.
 
The same could be said for most of the Celtics of late.
 
Kyrie Irving is coming off his most efficient game of the season, tallying 30 points on 10-for-12 shooting from the field. Jayson Tatum had a rough start, but he came on strong as well with 14 points – all coming in the second half.
 
But the backbone of Boston’s success lies in what they’re able to get done defensively.
 
So far, Boston’s defense has been as strong as we’ve seen this early, in quite some time.
 
Boston, which has a league-best defensive rating of 95.9, has length, savvy and an overall total buy-in by the players on what Brad Stevens is looking for, from them.
 
Meanwhile, the Mavericks (3-14) are coming off their most impressive victory this season, a 111-79 win over Milwaukee.  Dennis Smith Jr. has been among the more talented rookies this season. He’s averaging 14.5 points, 4.2 rebounds and 4.5 assists per game. Dallas is indeed in a transition period where longtime superstar Dirk Nowitzki (10.3 points, 5.5 rebounds per game) is gradually passing the torch to his younger teammates like Harrison Barnes (18.7 points, 7.1 rebounds) and Smith Jr.
 
Much like the Hawks game, the Celtics must approach this game with a focus on the opponent and not their record.
 
Because the Celtics are no longer just a good team on the schedule. They are a measuring stick for most to see how they stack up against the league’s best.
 
And the Celtics understand how their success has changed how teams see them.
 
“Now that we have a reputation, I think everyone is coming for us,” said Boston’s Jaylen Brown. “Now we have to come play even harder, and I think we can do that. I think we are more than capable.”

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE