Shaq says he’s ‘shogun’ of centers

The Big Cactus was planted in the Sonoran Desert to make the Suns the best.Shaquille O’Neal can talk the topic of supremacy, having climbed the NBA mountaintop four times and believing that he still sits above all centers.”Because I’ve done the most,” O’Neal said. “I’m not worried about guys winning dunk contests and doing stuff like that. You still have to outdo the shogun to become the shogun. When I leave, it’ll be because my time is up, not because someone is outplaying me or someone has done more than me. The only one who has even done close, and I don’t really consider him a center, is Mr. (Tim) Duncan. Any other center, the things that they have done, I invented.”In his 17th season, O’Neal has the perspective of having logged more games (1,042) than any active NBA player for the first time in his career.”I just try to pace myself every 20 games,” O’Neal, 36, said. “When I was younger, I had a different mentality, so I really haven’t mastered the mentality of being an old guy yet.”Suns coach Terry Porter has talked about picking spots in certain back-to-back situations to hold out O’Neal, particularly against a team without a conventional big man.”Of all the big guys in this league, he’s probably got the most wear and tear just because he’s been pounded on for so long,” Porter said.Missing one-third of the games in the past three seasons will attest to that. O’Neal calls his recent years’ problems “knickknack” injuries that he can avoid under Suns head athletic trainer Aaron Nelson’s unique approach.The Suns are going to lean on O’Neal’s 325-pound frame.Porter believes in a low-post presence to force defenses to commit to doubling or playing one-on-one coverage.”Like I always tell the guys, I’m lifetime 55-60 percent down there,” O’Neal said. “I ain’t going to be shooting jumpers. I ain’t going to be facing up. So if I get a guy on my back, I’m going to take the high-percentage shot. If I get doubled, I’m going to get everybody else involved. That’s how you win. You’ve got to go through the big man.”O’Neal said he told Suns General Manager Steve Kerr he would oblige with nights off if requested but he wouldn’t be the one asking for any. After finishing tied with Amaré Stoudemire last season for the second most fouls per game in the NBA, O’Neal is more concerned with staying in games. He said this new Suns defensive scheme exposes him to fouls more often.Many cite a decrease in O’Neal’s jumping ability. This is no revelation for him.”I’ve just got to try to be smarter,” he said. “I really didn’t start winning until I started losing my lift. When I was doing all the spectacular (stuff), I was going home early, too. The day I got 30 and 31, started losing my lift and started getting smarter, that’s when I started winning. Jumping high and being exciting is not going to get you a win. It may get you some press, but it’s not going to get you where the shogun is at.”And for anoyone who doesnt know shogun is Japanese for commander


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