Shaq going back to No. 33
CLEVELAND -- Shaquille O'Neal hasn't picked out a house in Cleveland yet. He has chosen a jersey number -- his old one.
Shaq is going back to No. 33.
Traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers on Thursday, the 15-time All-Star has decided to wear 33, the team confirmed Friday. That's the number O'Neal wore in high school and at LSU before turning pro. O'Neal wore No. 32 when he was in Orlando, Miami and Phoenix.
O'Neal's trade -- and the Orlando Magic's deal to get Vince Carter -- overshadowed this year's NBA draft. The Cavaliers had been working on a possible trade for months with Phoenix for O'Neal and finally agreed to a package that sent Ben Wallace, Sasha Pavlovic, a second-round pick in next year's draft and $500,000 to the Suns.
In Cleveland, O'Neal will be teammates with LeBron James, the latest in a long line of superstar partners to pair with the entertaining enter. O'Neal has previously with Anfernee Hardaway, Kobe Bryant, Dwyane Wade and Steve Nash. He won three titles with Bryant and the Lakers and one with Wade.
James is after his first championship, and the Cavs believe O'Neal can help him get it.
Cleveland's trade for O'Neal has Cavaliers fans convinced the club can end the city's 45-year championship drought in the three major sports. However, O'Neal has yet to arrive in town and isn't expected to make his first trip as a Cavalier to Ohio until next week.
When he does show up, Cleveland is expected to roll out the red carpet for a player who commands the same kind of attention afforded James.
James and O'Neal have been friends for several years. When James was a high school star in Akron, O'Neal attended one of his games and the two stars have maintained a solid relationship. This will be the first time James has been teammates with a player as well known as himself.
Cavs coach Mike Brown doesn't envision any problems between the larger-than-life figures.
"Both guys are good guys," Brown said. "Both guys like each other. Both guys will be happy to play with one another. And the most important thing is they have one common goal. Those things are the things that are going to make this work. Because they're competitive, because they have that one common goal, I think will help this relationship and make this journey work.
"Only time will tell as we go along how it all meshes out."
A frequent user of Twitter, the social networking site, the 37-year-old O'Neal posted a message late Thursday night saying he planned to play longer than the one year he has left under contract.
"My numbers are not good enough to retire 3 more yrs left," he tweeted.
Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press
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