Wednesday, July 1, 2009
The Big Moses?
With the Shaqtus supposedly on his way to Cleveland, NBA fans are already beginning to wonder what his new nickname will be. The Big Cuyahoga? The Big Rock Star? Hopefully Shaq will come up with something more clever. What Cavs fans are wondering though is will Shaq be able to help get Lebron and the Cavs over the hump and win the championship. When it comes to winning a championship, I think Shaq's nickname in Cleveland might become The Big Mistake (get it? because Cleveland is also known as the Mistake by the Lake). He is already into the twilight of his career and he is mirroring the career of Moses Malone quite eerily.
Moses Malone began his career in the mid 70s with the Houston Rockets and was a dominant force on their team for years. In Houston he would start a string of 12 straight all star appearances and win multiple MVPs. He would not win a title though until he was traded to the Sixers in the early 80s. The Sixers needed to get over the hump and after acquiring Malone in 1982 ran roughshod over the competition in the playoffs in 1983 and won the title. After that Malone had several more good years with the Sixers but the team began to decline. Malone was traded to the Bullets in the mid 80s and bounced back for a few more productive years.
Similarly, the Shaqtus came into the league in 1992 and immediately became a dominant force with the Magic. He led them to the finals with Penny Hardaway, but they were not able to bring home the title. A year later the Shaqtus signed with the Lakers and was able to get them over the hump, taking them to the promised land three times. Eventually though, Shaq was considered to be less important than Kobe to the Lakers' future and was traded to the Heat. Here he tacked on a few more good years and even won another title with Dwayne Wade. Sound like anybody you know so far?
After the Bullets, Moses Malone became a journeyman. He went from Atlanta to Milwaukee back to Philadelphia and eventually to San Antonio. He was no longer considered a dominant force anymore and his teams were not serious playoff contenders.
I think that Shaq may have entered this phase of his career as well. During his time with Phoenix he would have flashes of brilliance, but the Suns ultimately could not compete. Now he has gone on to the Cavs where I think he might just slow down their up tempo playing style. The Cavs might actually take a step back next year with the Big Cuyahoga (I'm going with this one) on their team. They might even send him on his way to another team as fast as they brought him in.
Shaq and Moses Malone were both at considered the be the best big men in the NBA during their careers. But you can't stay on top forever, and Shaq appears to be headed the along the same path that Moses has already been down.