Though he was no longer the dominant force he was in his prime, when he won three consecutive championships for the Los Angeles Lakers in 2000, 2001, and 2002 or an additional title for the Miami Heat in 2006, Shaquille O’Neal joining the Boston Celtics in 2010 was nonetheless an intriguing move. The addition of Big Aristotle to the Boston lineup was a big deal considering the Celtics were the arch-nemeses to the Lakers and it added a flickering flame to the storied feud between Shaq and former Lakers teammate Kobe Bryant, but also because the allure of seeing Shaq play alongside the likes of Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and Rajon Rondo — the crux of the team coming off an NBA championship run in 2008 — was undeniable and reinforced the depth of the Celtics roster at the center position, where Kendrick Perkins was coming off a knee injury suffered during the 2010 NBA Finals.
Unfortunately, Shaquille O’Neal was injury prone at this point in his career as well, suffering from Achilles tendinitis (which would eventually result in a career-ending torn Achilles tendon). Notwithstanding, Shaq still started the most games for the 2010-11 Celtics at the center position, averaging 9.2 points and 4.8 rebounds in 20 minutes played per game. The truly impressive stat however is that the Celtics’ record with Shaq during that season was 28-9, on pace for a 62-win season. Without him? 28-17, a 51-win pace and a marked difference that showed that despite his limited playing time, Shaq Diesel was still a considerable asset for the team. It’s a notion that isn’t lost on former Celtics teammate and fellow NBA Hall of Famer Paul Pierce, who thinks that the Celtics would’ve won another title in 2011 had Shaq stayed healthy.
“I am telling you, if we had him healthy, I think we would have won it that year,” said Pierce on a recent episode of the “KG Certified” podcast.
“We (had) a great start before Diesel got hurt,” Pierce added. “We beat Miami with LeBron, yeah he was rolling. We were 23 and 4 before Diesel got hurt.”
Pierce also joked, “I love Shaq as a teammate. But the only thing I didn’t like about Shaq was when I was on the bench and he was on the bench, he was taking up like three seats.”
All jokes aside, Paul Pierce thinks the Celtics would’ve won another title in 2011 had Shaq stayed healthy, and coming into that season, Shaq seemed to share that same sentiment. Shaq revealed that though many teams pursued him in the offseason leading into the 2010-11 season, he considered the Boston Celtics the best fit.
“This summer, I had many options, but I wanted to be with a team that was used to winning, with a team that was one or two pieces away. I think it’s a good fit.” Shaq told ESPN.
Do you agree with the idea that Paul Pierce thinks the Celtics would’ve won another title in 2011 had Shaq stayed healthy? Let us know in the comments.