McHale: Mailman Making a Miami Delivery

Philip Maymin
Basketball News Services 

Kevin McHale knows a little something about the power forward spot. He redefined the position as a Hall-of-Famer on three championship Boston Celtics teams and has bet his career as an executive on Kevin Garnett, who this past season won his first MVP award. McHale recently summoned all that wisdom to come to this pronouncement: Karl Malone will make a sunny delivery this offseason to rejoin Shaquille O'Neal in Miami.

Shaq is probably the world's biggest free agent magnet. Everybody loves playing with him. Everybody, perhaps, except Kobe Bryant. One of our readers put it best. Walter D., a lifelong Laker fan but a New York resident for 13 years, writes: "As great as Kobe looks in the open floor and as great as he looks on those pretty drives to the basket, it is easy for him to do so since had Shaq on the opposite side of the floor being double-teamed without the ball... Phil Jackson understood that completely from day 1 and it only took half of the season for Karl Malone and Gary Payton to figure out how much easier that life is with Shaq... What Kobe did not understand is having Shaq meant he could play one on one on the opposite side of the Triangle and get those good looks he often got."

While Shaq and Dwyane Wade will not be running the triangle in Miami, you can play pretty much any offensive scheme you want, and the opposition will still double-team Shaq, leaving whoever is on the opposite side open for an easy shot or free for a quick penetration into the lane. Even Lamar Odom recently said he would have done the same trade on his NBA Live simulation. Shaq's just that good.

If Malone does sign with the Heat, that will mean they have four former Lakers on their roster: Shaq, Malone, Eddie Jones, and Samaki Walker (currently a free agent). That's not to mention two former Clippers in Wang Zhi-Zhi and Keyon Dooling. The Heat will have as many as six players who played in the Staples Center on their roster.

Tim Povtak ofThe Orlando Sentinel notes: [Shaquille] O'Neal, who is spending much of his summer in Central Florida, will put on the boxing gloves and climb into the ring against Antonio Tarver, the light heavyweight world champion, at Universal Studios on Aug. 6. It's the main event in a charity fund-raiser titled: Shaq's Mama Said Knock You Out. It benefits the Odessa Chambliss Quality of Life Fund, which provides a scholarship fund for individuals seeking careers in nursing. Tickets for the event are $125. For more information, call 813-286-8300.


Andrew Abramson ofThe Miami Heraldwrites: Lamar Odom and Dwyane Wade stood side by side on the University of North Florida basketball court, preparing to defend the gold medal in the upcoming Olympics.They wore matching black jerseys, much like the Heat road uniforms last year. But barring any surprising future developments, they will be teammates for only 35 more days... For both men, the shock of no longer being teammates has not worn off. They developed a unique bond last season as the two star players on a young team that made a surprising trip to the second round of the NBA playoffs. Odom thought the Heat was building for the future with a youthful and talented core that included Caron Butler, who was also traded to the Lakers. Instead he, along with Butler and Brian Grant, sat subdued at a Lakers news conference just weeks ago. ''I was sitting there at the press conference still a little stunned,'' Odom said. ``But it's reality. It's just the business of basketball. It's nothing personal.'' 

Andrew Abramson ofThe Miami Heraldwrites: That was USA basketball coach Larry Brown's main message to his team on the opening day of practice at the University of North Florida. ''No NBA crap,'' Brown preached to his team during Monday's scrimmage. ``No moaning, no groaning.''Aware that there is a slew of talented teams overseas hoping to dethrone the Americans in the Olympics for the first time since 1988, Brown does not want this team to suffer the same fate as the 2002 United States men's world championship team. That team finished sixth despite having a roster full of NBA players. ''You can't be scared to succeed, but there's a nervousness there,'' San Antonio Spurs forward Tim Duncan said. ``We're expected to win.'' This year's squad is the youngest United States team since professional players were allowed to compete in 1992. At an average age of 23.5 years, this squad is younger than four previous teams comprised of amateurs.

Harvey Fialkov ofThe South Florida Sun-Sentinelwrites: Is the Mailman relocating to South Florida? At least one Hall of Fame power forward seems to think so.``Regarding the possibility of signing free agent Karl Malone, Timberwolves vice president Kevin McHale said he hears the veteran power forward will sign with Miami,'' longtime columnist Sid Hartman wrote in Monday's Minneapolis Star Tribune. Malone's agent, Dwight Manley, and Heat General Manager Randy Pfund admitted they've had ongoing discussions involving the 14-time All-Star. Malone, who turned 41 last week, is recovering from minor knee surgery and the removal of bone spurs from the middle finger of his shooting hand. ``There's no news to report - yet,'' Manley said.