Shaquille O’Neal joining LeBron James an intriguing longshot

With the tragic news of the deaths of Michael Jackson and Farrah Fawcett on Thursday, the NBA Draft understandably became lost in the shuffle.

The biggest news to come out of the draft didn’t involve any of the young collegians and international players picked up by teams.

Shaquille O’Neal in the twilight of his career was dealt to the Cleveland Cavaliers to play sidekick to megastar LeBron James.

The Cavs can’t be blamed for trying.

Shaq teamed up with Kobe Bryant to win three straight NBA titles, leaving in a messy divorce and power struggle between the two superstars.

His skills diminished, he more contentedly played a supporting role to rising star Dwyane Wade during the Miami Heat’s surprising title run in 2006.

Clearly Cleveland is hoping to replicate Miami’s success, all the more important with James famously facing free agency next summer.

Shaq has always been easy to like, an engaging personality who has stayed away from the self-destructive behavior of professional athletes that creates headlines almost daily. It would be a neat story to see LeBron and Shaq to create a dynamic duo that would almost inevitably play the Lakers and then take down Kobe to win the 2010 title.

Unfortunately, and I mean that sincerely, I have a hard time seeing it happen. Don’t forget Boston exited the playoffs earlier without an injured Kevin Garnett. Eastern Conference champion Orlando isn’t going anywhere, and seeing Shaq as an effective foil for Dwight Howard over a grueling seven-game series is hard to imagine. The Magic also added their own aging superstar Thursday, picking up Vince Carter via trade.

I’m confident most basketball fans would love to see Kobe vs. LeBron/Shaq in June 2010. Getting there, at this point, is hardly a guarantee.

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