O'NEAL: DWYANE'S LIKE MIKE
By EVAN GROSSMAN
March 16, 2005 -- Shaquille O'Neal is, without a doubt, Dwyane Wade's biggest fan.
He's said it since the day he was traded to the Heat, and he was saying it again last night after Wade buried an 18-foot fadeaway at the final buzzer to give Miami a dramatic 98-96 win over the Knicks, a win that clinched a playoff spot for the top-seeded visitors.
"Yeah. He's a great player. We know he always wants the ball in his hands," O'Neal said after the Heat, winners of 10 straight, toppled a 13-point deficit. "We just chopped down that lead . . . We knew we had a chance to win it and he won it for us."
The Heat drew up the final play to go to Wade, in his second year, and not O'Neal, who said he has no problem riding shotgun to the youngster.
"For a young player, he has a lot of poise," said O'Neal (23 points, seven boards). "Too much poise."
"Most youngsters are like knuckleheads," said O'Neal, who shot 3-for-14 from the line. "He's not one of them. . . . He has a lot of poise to be young, and I'm very impressed."
The buzzer-beater gave Wade 24 points for the game.
Click to learn more...
In the past, O'Neal played with three up-and-coming shooting guards, but never before has Shaq taken one under his wing quite like Wade. Shaq compared playing with a young Penny Hardaway in Orlando, a young Kobe Bryant with the Lakers and now a young Wade with the Heat.
"The difference between those three is the Godfather trilogy," O'Neal said in classic Shaq-speak. "One is Fredo, who was never ready for me to hand it over to him. One is Sonny, who will do whatever it takes to be the man, and one is Michael, who if you watch the trilogy, the Godfather hands it over to Michael. So I have no problem handing it over to Dwyane."
It doesn't take a brain surgeon to realize Shaq was comparing Kobe to the psychotic Sonny, and Penny with the weaker Fredo characters from that movie. There only seems to be one that O'Neal would go to the mattresses with. As for Wade, last night it was his shot that sent the Knicks to sleep with the fishes.
"I would love to see the ball in my hands, but I'm not the best player or the best shooter on this team," O'Neal said. "I don't mind handing it over to Michael Dwyane Corleone."