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Check if Shaq's lips move

A look at five talking points that have the league buzzing:

1. Let the Shaq circus begin.

Let's see, the last time Shaquille O'Neal took time to discuss the Heat, he disparaged Pat Riley, blamed the Heat medical staff for his injuries, and spoke of the indignity of having to play alongside Ricky Davis and Chris Quinn.

That was last March, before Riley and Suns General Manager Steve Kerr agreed, according to Riley, "this will end today."

Friday in Phoenix, the teams meet for the first time since the February trade that sent O'Neal to the Suns.

Based on O'Neal's recent approach, figure on an "I said what?" slant from the former Heat championship center.

At least that will be the case if last week was any indication, when O'Neal said he couldn't recall an interview that had him speaking about a return to the Lakers in 2010, a supposedly misunderstood relationship with Kobe Bryant, and manipulation by Phil Jackson to spark Lakers contentiousness.

"It never came out of my mouth," O'Neal said. "America, don't always believe what you read."

2. LeBron's world tour.

With two years to go before free agency, consider this as primary season for LeBron James, who made campaign stops last week in New Jersey and Detroit.

The Cavaliers' forward spoke of how free agency is the rare time in sports when me-first has its merits.

"For some odd reason, when the players do what's best for the players, it always comes back on us. It almost looks bad," he said. "But when a franchise gives up on a player, it's OK."

3. All or nothing.

Stephon Marbury continues to insist on holding his ground with the $21 million he is due for the final season on his Knicks contract.

4. Growing grumpy.

The restlessness is increasing. Jerry Stackhouse is venting over watching from the inactive list in Dallas, while Chicago's Larry Hughes can't comprehend his limited minutes. Stackhouse and Hughes have played for a combined nine franchises. Perhaps the issue is not with their teams.

5. Silent running.

Bryant was blissfully mum amid last week's Shaq hullabaloo.

"I'm Tiger Woods right now," the Lakers' guard said. "You're not getting anything out of me but plain vanilla."


ONE THAT GOT AWAY: Yes, that is Heat summer-leaguer Anthony Morrow tearing it up with the Warriors, with 37- and 25-point performances last week. And yes, the undrafted guard out of Georgia Tech did shoot 52.6 percent from the field and 55 percent on 3-pointers (11 of 20) in his five July appearances with the Heat. But that was while the Heat was on the verge of signing 3-point specialist James Jones, and before Morrow shot 28 of 39 on 3-pointers for the Warriors in two ensuing summer leagues. "He's the real deal," Warriors coach Don Nelson said.

ALL ABOUT 2010: With its trades of Jamal Crawford to the Warriors and Zach Randolph to the Clippers, New York reduced its cap obligation for the 2010 offseason to about $24 million. That's sure to create additional LeBron buzz at the Garden. Fortunately, the Heat does not visit the Garden the rest of the season, so the Dwyane Wade-Knicks 2010 buzz might have to wait for the Knicks' (and tabloids') Feb. 28 visit.

EASY DOES IT: Averaging 16.7 shots per game (compared to the 12.9 of No. 2 pick Michael Beasley), Grizzlies guard O.J. Mayo, the No. 3 overall selection, has been asked to tone it down. "We have to somehow find a way to get balanced scoring with shot attempts," said Memphis coach Marc Iavaroni.

EVOLVING ROLES: Etan Thomas' start Tuesday against the Heat might have been his last, with the Wizards switching the next night to first-round pick JaVale McGee as their starting center. "Athleticism at the rim" was the reasoning of coach Eddie Jordan. ... Former Florida State guard Von Wafer has moved ahead of Luther Head in the Rockets' rotation... Yes, that is '08 end-of-season Heat fill-in Blake Ahearn with San Antonio. "He's a pretty crafty kid," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. The door opened for Ahearn when Tony Parker was injured Nov. 7 against the Heat.

FRATERNITY ROW: The Basketball Fraternity of Florida is holding its annual luncheon Dec. 16 at noon at the Polo Club in Boca Raton, with Rollie Massimino and Dolph Schayes scheduled as speakers. Cost is $40, with details available from Stan Diamond at 561-394-9628 or Sid Gerchick at 954-721-6138.



Double-doubles by Jermaine O'Neal in his 30 career appearances against the Heat, with his teams 11-1 in those games, including Wednesday's Raptors victory at AmericanAirlines Arena.

Ira Winderman can be reached at Material from Sun Sentinel interviews, wire services, other beat writers and league and team sources was used in this report. He can be heard on WQAM (560-AM) Wednesday at 5 p.m., as well as after weeknight Heat games.

Author: Fox Sports
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Added: November 23, 2008


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