In a candid interview with John Reid of The Times Picayune, Shaq reflected on a number of topics including his retirement, his move to Turner over ESPN, and the future of the NBA. However, the biggest item of note was his answer to a question about his performance this past season. The question did not directly reference anything about the Perk trade, yet Shaq volunteered quite the eye-opening item in his response:
Was it tough seeing your skills diminish after dominating for most of your career?
At 39, I wasn’t mentally on the down slope. But I used to feel really terrible after scoring eight points. This ain’t me, the Diesel scoring eight points. My mind was on winning the whole thing, and we had a chance to get the second spot (in the Eastern Conference), and we ended up getting the fourth spot. I even told (Boston General Manager) Danny Ainge not to do the Perkins deal with Oklahoma City. I told them I might not be ready, and I’m definitely not coming back. Those guys did what they’ve got to do. I wasn’t surprised; I’ve seen it before. They say all that blah, blah, but you know it’s always going to be something different.
A few thoughts on the comments and the motives behind them, after the jump.
Needless to say, that’s some shots fired there. I wasn’t expecting Shaq to come out like this and throw Ainge under the bus. While reading this though, you have to take into account that it’s clear Diesel is trying to cover himself here for his for his inability to come back from the Achilles/calf ailments. You have to take these comments with at least a small grain of salt now that Shaq has ridden out into the sunset. He’s trying to protect his legacy here.
With that said, we now have both Shaq and Doc Rivers who have come out on record to say they believe the Perk trade shouldn’t have happened in-season. And while it’s all a moot point right now, and there were likely countless other factors (injuries, fatigue, Big Baby’s poor play, etc.) that figured into the team’s disappointing stretch run and playoff performance, this revelation should only further fan the flames surrounding the move.
And you know what? That’s a good thing. Danny Ainge deserves some fire here for what at the time seemed to be a foolishly risky move. And with Nenad Krstic gone to Russia now, the return for the team’s incumbent starting center is of a lanky underachieving hybrid unsigned forward. The reality Perk was going to be gone when the 2010-11 season ended shouldn’t have been a major factor if this team was going all-in on a championship in the here and now. And with Shaq admitting he warned Ainge about his ability to return during the season, that’s just yet another reason why this shouldn’t have happened.