Steinmetz: Is Shaq a great, or great underachiever?

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Steinmetz: Is Shaq a great, or great underachiever?

June 2, 2011STEINMETZ ARCHIVEWARRIORS PAGE WARRIORS VIDEOMatt SteinmetzCSNBayArea.com

In the wake of Shaquille O'Neal announcing his retirement, I was asked on a radio show Wednesday where he would rank on the all-time centers list.To me, it's pretty easy. Shaq is no doubt up there with Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. For the sake of argument, I'd rank O'Neal above Hakeem Olajuwon and Moses Malone, although those two guys are in his ballpark.My point was that O'Neal was an interior force who dominated the game for a stretch of years -- not to mention won four titles, which separates him from most other centers.After I got done with the interview, my phone rang. It was a colleague, who said simply: "Or you could call O'Neal one of the greatest underachievers the game has ever known."As a famous radio announcer says, "Two things can be equally true."RELATED: Shaq announces retirement
Yes, O'Neal's legacy may not be as positive as it should be. When some people view O'Neal they see a player who was given tremendous athleticism and size and yet didn't quite make the most of it.They'll cite his outside-of-basketball interests as proof he wasn't as serious about the game as he could have been. There seems to be a connection between Charles Barkley and O'Neal -- as two players who just didn't make the most of what they had.Even if true, it doesn't take away from where O'Neal lands among the great centers. And he's got to land among the greats. I don't necessarily disagree that O'Neal could have been a better player. But what I'm saying is that even despite that, he was still better than virtually every other center who played the game.RELATED: Shaq career stats
His fun-loving demeanor also gives the critics some ammunition. O'Neal's good-natured and light-hearted personality played into the notion that he wasn't as serious as he could have been about the game.Some will also make sure to point out that O'Neal hasn't been very good at all the past few years. And they're right.Bottom line is there will always be a segment of people maintaining O'Neal didn't reach his potential. Maybe not. But whatever he got out of himself was enough to put him among the greatest big men in the game's history.

Feeling more comfortable, West cleaning up Warriors' messes down stretch

Feeling more comfortable, West cleaning up Warriors' messes down stretch

OAKLAND -- David West is as much a cleanup man as he is a basketball player.

The veteran power forward, masquerading as a center for the Warriors, cleans up behind teammates, cleans the clocks of opponents and probably cleans his plate after every meal. And he’d hit fourth in any baseball manager’s batting order.

The Warriors during their renaissance haven’t had such a personality. They’ve been a fun bunch, enjoying life, each other and their pillaging of the NBA.

West, 36, brings a more laconic dynamic, and it’s on full display as the Warriors lean into the final weeks of this regular season. He’s a leader who is producing and, more and more, winning over a fan base that was somewhat skeptical early this season.

“David West has been playing brilliantly,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said Friday night, after West came off the bench for a highly efficient 14-minute stint in a 114-100 win over the Kings.

Showcasing sharp passing, splendid shooting, solid rim protection and his usual old-jerky toughness, West totaled 8 points, four assists, three rebounds, three blocks and one steal. The Warriors were plus-8 when he was on the floor.

Such production, it seems, is a bit of a bonus.

“He’s been very good for us as a veteran leader,” Draymond Green said. “He’s been playing well, but just his presence also has meant a lot to this team.

“D-West is just kind of a no-bull---- type of a guy. He doesn’t say much. But when he does, you know it means a lot. And everybody hears him.”

Said West: “It’s just about adjusting and learning personalities. Obviously, this group has been very successful. I just try to add my 2 cents where I feel like it fits. Try not to over-talk people. I speak to guys directly and just make sure that we’re all on the same page.”

West is in his 14th season. Drafted by the New Orleans Hornets in 2003, he also has played for the Pacers and, last season, the Spurs, before joining the Warriors in July.

The question at the time was whether he still had a lot to give. West is a two-time All-Star and one of the most widely respected players in the league. But did he still have the legs to compete at a high level?

The answer is visible, particularly over the past month, since he returned from fractured left thumb on Feb. 23. West is shooting 53.0 percent from the field, he’s rebounding consistently and he has proven to be a spectacularly good passer -- easily one of the best in the league among big men.

Earlier this week, to quell any lingering concerns about how much athleticism he still has, West rose up and dunked over a crowd of three Dallas Mavericks. It was clock-cleaning at its finest.

“I’m just getting more comfortable,” West said, referring to his game and his locker-room influence. “We’ve developed good chemistry, communicating, harping on our defense more than anything else at this moment, because we feel that’s going to give us a chance if shots aren’t falling.”

West is on a one-year deal for the veteran’s minimum, $1.55 million. He sacrificed bigger dollars for a chance at his first championship. He’s doing his part. And he neither takes nor leaves any mess.

Warriors set franchise record, match 1985-86 Showtime Lakers

Warriors set franchise record, match 1985-86 Showtime Lakers

BOX SCORE

For the 44th time in the 2016-17 season, the Warriors dished out 30-plus assists in one game. Not only does that set a franchise record, Golden State is also the first to do so since one of the greatest teams in NBA history. 

On a Steph Curry heave down the court that resulted in an Andre Iguodala running reverse dunk with 38 seconds left in the third quarter, the Warriors made history with their 31st assist of the game. The nifty assist made the Warriors the first team since the 1985-86 Showtime Lakers to hand out more than 30 assists 44 times in one season.

Last season, when the Warriors set an NBA record record with 73 wins, the team finished 43 games with the feat.

The '85-86 Lakers were looking to repeat as NBA champions 31 years ago but came up short in five games to Hakeem Olajuwon and the Houston Rockets in the Western Conference Finals. 

Golden State finsihed Friday night with 37 assists in a 114-100 win over the Kings. Curry led the way with 12 dimes.