Mark Twain on Shaq

Philip Maymin
Basketball News Services 

Diversification is supposed to mitigate risks but of course it doesn't; it merely spreads it out. The right approach, as Mark Twain reputedly advised, is to "put all your eggs in one basket and WATCH THAT BASKET." The Miami Heat now have all their eggs in the world's biggest basket. Bringing in Shaq was not just the biggest trade in the franchise's history; it involved a paradigm shift in the way the team approaches building. Before, they used to value a portfolio of options. Now, they are left with just one really big option.

Last year, the Heat were more in the mold of Memphis in having a lot of young talent to develop. The idea there is simple: it is better to have a portfolio of options than an option on a portfolio. Why is that the case? Because you just need one player to be a breakout superstar to have a formidable team. If you just have one really big option, you need that specific player to be incredibly dominant.

Moving half of next year's salary cap flexibility (and a starting center) in Brian Grant, two potential future All-Stars in Lamar Odom and Caron Butler, and next year's number one draft pick means the Heat gave up at least four options to get one.

Of all the players on all the teams in all the league, Shaq is the one most likely to bring down an entire franchise should he get injured. The Spurs and the Wolves would be lost without their leaders as well but the Heat could probably fall from potentially winning the Southeast division to potentially coming in last.

Though it's hard to miss the Millennium Goliath, that is one expensive basket. Watch it closely.

Dwyane Wade scored seven points and handed out eight assists in the US win over Puerto Rico.

Shawn Marion said of Wade: I watched him play this year and I worked out with him last summer. I have seen what he can do. He has amazing skills. He is a smaller version of me. I’m real active in the passing lanes and that’s his style. He gets everybody involved. He likes pushing it.

Tim Duncan said of Wade: D. Wade ran it great. He is an excellent defender and once that ball goes up, he can turn and really turn it into a break real quick. He executes everything very well. He has been very good at the point for us.

Wade himself was asked about the hook-up he had with Carmelo Anthony for a nice dunk, to which he replied: I loved it, I love being on the floor with these guys who can go get it. Carmelo and me had a connection on that play, I knew where he was going and he knew I was going to throw it.

Read more quotes from Team USA here.

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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.


Desmond Conner ofThe Hartford Courantwrites: The Miami Heat wanted to keep Caron Butler when the deal for Shaquille O'Neal was being negotiated. But Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak wasn't interested in doing it unless Butler was in the mix.Kupchak told Jim Calhoun that personally when the UConn coach called to get the lowdown on his former player. Heat president and general manager Pat Riley didn't want to let Butler go. Butler said Riley told him that.

Marc J. Spears ofThe Denver Postwrites: Shaquille O'Neal will be dunking near Miami Beach, Fla., not near Hollywood, Calif.The Eastern Conference has an NBA champion for the first time in six years, the Detroit Pistons. But even with no Shaq and no defending title team, most NBA insiders still call the Western Conference the best, despite a massive shuffling of talent in the past three weeks. "Shaq obviously is the dominant player in the league, and whatever conference he's playing in is going to be viewed as tough, but the West still has some very strong teams," Pistons president Joe Dumars said.

Vivian Tyson ofThe Jamaica Observerwrites: [Tim] Hardaway, who signed to the Indiana Pacers in April of last year from the Miami Heat, told the Sunday Observer that he would not only be imparting the art of basketball to the youngsters, but will also urge them to take their education seriously in order to land scholarships, which would easier propel them into big time basketball."I try to make them understand that (they can) use sports to get education - that's what I did, I used sports to get my education because my parents didn't have no money to send me to school. I used that (basketball) to get my education. I found that I was able to play in the NBA if I worked hard enough off the court, and that is what I want to instill in them, that it is not after you play on a basketball court with your friends (that it ends), just go home, eat, drink and sleep basketball," Hardaway said.

Dave George ofThe Palm Beach Postwrites: It's been suggested to me that the local media have forfeited their cynicism as relates to the addition of Shaquille O'Neal to the Miami Heat roster. To a sportswriter, this is a serious charge, rather like telling a skunk it has lost the distinctive aura that separates it from more common members of the animal kingdom. Here, then, is the first, faltering attempt to regain some sort of balance... It won't be easy, but I give you 32 reasons to be mad at No. 32.

Brian Schmitz ofThe Orlando Sentinelwrites: Who had the best offseason? The winner is . . . the Miami Heat.It was no contest, really. They landed the most dominant player, Shaquille O'Neal, without having any cap space, fleecing the Los Angles Lakers. The Heat finally matter. Give Pat Riley the 2004-05 Executive of the Year award now.