NBA: O’Neal, James should be fine
NEW YORK ó One star who has played with Shaquille O’Neal thinks he’ll fit in just fine with LeBron James.
“I think he realizes that he’s not in the prime of his career, so to speak,” two-time NBA MVP Steve Nash told The Associated Press on Tuesday.
Nash’s Phoenix Suns traded O’Neal to the Cleveland Cavaliers last month, where the 37-year-old center will try to bring James his first championship.
O’Neal is “still a great player, but LeBron is going to be the focal point,” Nash said. “I think he’s happy with that. At the same time, he’ll get a lot of opportunities to be in the spotlight, and he’s great at it.”
Nash, who recently signed a two-year, $22 million contract extension to stay with Phoenix through the 2011-12 season, is confident another Suns star won’t be traded. Amare Stoudemire has been the subject of plenty of rumors ó the forward has one year left on his contract and wants the maximum in any new deal, something the budget-conscious Suns may not be willing to do.
“I don’t see him leaving,” Nash said. “I just see him having a phenomenal career and being in Phoenix a long time.”
Nash has seen a former teammate and close friend, Dirk Nowitzki, struggle through a difficult few months that has nothing to do with basketball. Nowitzki’s former fiancee was arrested at the Mavericks star’s Dallas home in May and faces charges in two states. She has told The Dallas Morning News she is pregnant with Nowitzki’s child.
“You worry for a friend when they’re in a situation like that,” Nash said. “But I also know he’ll bounce back really strong from this. We’re going to see him be a dominant player in this league for a long time. And I think off the court this will only help him grow, mature and have a better life.”
The 35-year-old Nash said Monday that the three remaining years on his contract with the Suns might be his last in the league. The point guard seems well-prepared for his post-basketball career.
He’s got a production company, a charitable foundation, and is now involved in a new sports venture called MakeItPro ó a Web site that allows young athletes to network, manage team schedules, get training and nutrition advice from experts and buy equipment.
“It’s one of the opportunities for kids I never had growing up,” Nash said. “I can only imagine what a powerful tool it’s going to be for kids.”