It’s not just the fans of fast-break basketball who have complained about the Phoenix Suns’ change of pace this season. From Amare to Steve Nash, the Suns themselves are somewhere between wistful reminiscing and outright pining for the D’Antoni days.
Popular sentiment has been that even more than new coach Terry Porter, Shaq is the main one to blame for the new, slow-it-down Suns. After losing their third straight game to the Hornets last night (without Shaq or Nash in the lineup), Phoenix goes into tonight’s game against the Mavs at 11-8. If Porter is in fact thinking of taking things back to last year, Shaq tells the Arizona Republic that’s fine by him:
“If we’re going to run, we should stop talking about it and just do it,” O’Neal said. “We don’t need coach’s permission to get a rebound and run. I’m going to be the one igniting the break because I’m getting most of the rebounds. It doesn’t matter to me. I can play any style.”
O’Neal apparently has heard the grousing internally and from fans about the Suns’ offense being predicated more on O’Neal post-ups this season.
“I’m only getting five shots a game, so it can’t be like they’re throwing to me every time,” said O’Neal, who actually is averaging 9.8 shots per game but took six in Sunday’s game. “I’m not the go-to guy. I’m programmed to play any style. It doesn’t matter.”
In Shaq’s post-trade Phoenix press conference last year, he said he was down to be a part of the run-and-gun — that he looked forward to getting boards and igniting the break, as well as getting up and down the court himself. Even when he does break out his exaggerated “running hard” act, the fans eat it up, plus Diesel can actually still beat a lot of centers in a sprint.
Can 36-year-old Shaq hang if the Suns start running again?
Source: Arizona Republic