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Coast To Coast

January 27, 2008|Mark Heisler

Nice knowing

you, Diesel

With Miami President Pat Riley now in rebuilding mode ("We've definitely changed our thinking"), the Heat press corps rose as one to suggest that Shaquille O'Neal, who is out yet again, pack it in.

The South Florida Sun-Sentinel even suggested that Shaq retire with two seasons left on his contract.

That won't be happening. He'll use a walker to come to work for two seasons before leaving $40 million on the table.

Upset to the highest point of upsetivity, as he once put it, suspecting the push to leave comes from management, O'Neal told ESPN's Jack Ramsay he isn't going anywhere, noting: "Whenever my numbers have dropped, it hasn't been because of humans. It's been freak injuries."

That's our big guy. Just in case, mark this date on your calendar: Feb. 28, Heat at Lakers.

Spies like us

This just in from the NBA's police state:

The Knicks' organization was shocked -- shocked! -- at former coach Larry Brown's allegation they spied on him.

The Knicks spy on everyone, as staffers eavesdrop on all interviews, typing the dialogue into their BlackBerries. The team even assigned a security man to shadow their least favorite writer, the New York Daily News' Frank Isola.

In the latest totalitarian twist, the Knicks now eject fans for behavior as mild as holding up a "Fire Isiah" sign. Last week three beat writers were shoved aside, trying to talk to a fan as he was escorted out.

In response, the Knicks reprimanded . . . the press, which was formally barred from talking to fans being ejected.

Chronicles of 'Sheed (cont.)

With O'Neal, second to Orlando's Dwight Howard in All-Star balloting, unlikely to attend, the Detroit media asked No. 3 vote-getter Rasheed Wallace about going.

'Sheed, of course, said he didn't want to, but Coach Flip Saunders said he should, noting, "All our players get paid a lot of money . . . and the reason you get paid is people want to see you."

Actually, there's limited excitement about seeing Wallace, who doesn't have All-Star numbers (12.3 points, 7.2 rebounds) and isn't likely to be asked with Chris Bosh available.

Of course, the Pistons will then cop a massive attitude when 'Sheed is "snubbed."

Role play

Looking for a big man, the Lakers never got past Chris Webber's conditioning. If they had, there would have been his willingness to accept a minor role.

Webber was reportedly difficult enough as a starter last season in Detroit, to say nothing of the days when he could still score 20 points.

Said Indiana Coach Jim O'Brien, who asked Webber to play in the low post as 76ers coach when they acquired him in 2005:

"In one of the first conversations I had with Chris Webber, I said, 'This is one of the ways we're going to use you offensively.'

"And he said, 'Coach, I don't do the low-post thing anymore.' "

Another ship in trouble

In a memorable quote, former Knicks guard Micheal Ray Richardson once said of an earlier nightmare, "The ship be sinking."

Using better English, Houston's Yao Ming voiced a similar concern after a recent home loss to the 76ers.

"It's like a big ship is sinking and sinking," Yao said. "There is a big hole below, and it needs fixing immediately."

-- Mark Heisler

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