Posted Jul 21 2004 6:23PM
Shaq vows to bring a title to South Florida
JULY 20 -- Shaquille O'Neal made a promise to Heat fans on Tuesday. We will know whether he made good on that promise about 10 months from now.
After arriving with his wife Shaunie in Miami in an 18-wheeler that had his likeness and the words "Diesel Power" on the side, Shaq swore to the Heat fans gathered in front of American Airlines Arena that they would be here again.
"Miami, remember this feeling," Shaq said to the cheering crowd. "I'm going to bring a championship to Miami. I promise."
They took that promise to heart, as it was love at first sight for Heat fans and South Florida officials. And what a first sight it was. Upon stepping out of the 18-wheeler, Shaq showered them with a smile and then sprayed the fans with a super-soaker water gun.
Welcome to Miami, Shaq. Take our town, please. One can only imagine what they will do in South Florida for O'Neal if he does help deliver an NBA title. The only keys left to give Shaq after Tuesday's ceremonies are the Florida Keys.
After Heat officials revealed a billboard on the side of the American Airlines Arena featuring his likeness in a Heat jersey, Shaq ducked his considerable frame inside the arena to meet the South Florida media. He kept them thoroughly entertained by asking them to get in shape and, at one point, jokingly asked whether they wanted to see his butt.
But when it came to basketball, Shaq was serious about his commitment to his new team. Well, as serious as Shaq can be at a press conference.
"Am I going to re-dedicate myself?" Shaq repeated. "That would be correct, young man. One-thousand percent correct, buddy."
Shaq paused, smiled and pointed to the reporter.
"Tough guy. You want a piece of me?" he said, laughing. "I will be in top physical condition and I urge all of you to get in shape with me."
One part of the Heat that needs no shaping up is guard Dwyane Wade. Shaq had nothing but praise for the young guard, even going as far as to say the Miami Heat belong to Wade.
As much as Shaq noted that the Heat belonged to the young Olympian-to-be, Heat president Pat Riley noted during his formal introduction of O'Neal that if a team wanted to win a title, it needed a dominant big man. Riley noted that he played with Wilt and coached Kareem, which left him feeling extremely fortunate to have acquired O'Neal.
"He's the most dominant player in the world," Riley said.
Shaq hopes his presence will help the Heat become much better than they were last season.
"They didn't have a lot of talent on their team, but they had a great team," O'Neal said. "I wanted to come to a great team.
"You can't do it by yourself, no matter how great you are or how great you think you are. You can't do it."
Now it's up to Shaq to make good on his promise to make the Heat the greatest team in the NBA.
Shaquille O'Neal is one of the more quotable players in the NBA. On Tuesday, he had the stage to himself. Here are some of the better quotes from his introductory press conference in Miami.
"I came to Miami for one reason only, I wanted to hear coach [Stan] Van Gundy stop yelling, 'Three seconds! Three seconds! Get him out of the lane!' and start yelling, 'They're foulin' him, they're foulin' him!'"
"I don't believe in pressure. Pressure is not knowing where your next meal is coming from."
"Rollin' up, I was telling my wife that I felt like the president."
"I get all that treatment because I'm sexy."
"If [Wade] gets fouled hard, they'll get fouled hard. He's a great team player and I believe that teams have always belonged to guards. He's a special guard. I've never played with a guard that special."
"Would you like to kiss it?"
"I just bought a house on the beach and my wife likes to see me naked. So, if you take pictures of me naked on the beach, don't sell them to the National Enquirer. If you do, I get 15 percent."