The Week in Sports, Vol. 3

An odd sight: Shaquille O'Neal in uniform.

BREAKING NEWS: Shaquille O’Neal unavailable for practice today, but coach Doc Rivers still feels he’ll be available for second-round series against Miami Heat.

Actually, who the hell knows if Shaq will be ready for this series – or the next round, or the one after that …

Given his age (39) and health concerns  (he’s played 70 games in a season just four times in the past 10 seasons), this really shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. But I’m sure when the Celtics signed O’Neal to a two-year contract last August they were expecting to get more than 37 regular-season games out of him. He’s played a total of 55 minutes since January 19.

Celtics fans have grown accustomed to seeing Shaq on the bench in street clothes.

The Celtics have taken the high road on this but you have to figure they are beating their heads against the wall. With Dwight Howard and the Orlando Magic eliminated from the playoffs Thursday night, there are no formidable centers remaining among Eastern Conference playoff teams. That tempers the urgency to get Shaq back on the floor. Nonetheless, the Celtics are a far better rebounding and defensive team when Shaq’s not sitting on the bench in civvies.

At the very least it’d be nice to have Shaq plugging the lane and putting his six fouls to good use when LeBron James and Dwyane Wade drive to the bucket.

And who’d have thought Jermaine would be the most durable O’Neal on the Celtics roster?

*****

Apparently, people in Montreal just can’t come to grips with the fact that the Canadiens’ season is over — at the hands of the hated Bruins, no less. Twitter is buzzing with rants from heartbroken Habs fans, but it’s members of the Montreal media that are truly embarrassing themselves.

Montreal Gazette columnist Dave Stubbs whines that Bruins players, fans, and media are “sore winners” :

There was the up-yours middle digit [Andrew] Ference flipped Bell Centre fans in Game 4, later explaining it in a fashion that would have made Pinocchio blush. That was followed by Ference’s Game 7 high shoulder hit on Jeff Halpern, a headhunting behind the play hit that leveled the Canadien. It was cause for great joy among Bruins fans, at least those who weren’t responding with verbal abuse, charging Halpern with a dive when he didn’t require a stretcher and returned to action too soon for their liking.

If the Bruins were the only team in the NHL to complain about the Canadiens’ proclivity for diving, Stubbs’ argument might have some validity. But Montreal’s reputation is well earned — look no further than PK Subban’s flop in Game 7, which NESN color analyst Andy Brickley called “an absolute joke.”

The Canadiens are a storied franchise with an awe-inspiring tradition. But the antics of the 2010-11 edition sully the organization.

*****

Given LeBron James’ recently signed deal with Fenway Sports Marketing, I wonder who Red Sox (and FSM) owners John Henry and Tom Werner will be rooting for in the Celtics-Heat conference semifinal series.

If you’ve been to Fenway recently, you know anything Sox ownership touches turns to gold, but Fenway Sports Marketing will have their hands full with James. He has become firmly entrenched as the athlete you love to hate, and his family isn’t helping his cause either.

*****

I may be required to turn in my man card after making this statement, but here goes: I couldn’t care less about the NFL Draft. Perhaps the fact that I don’t spend a great deal of time watching college football tends to feed into my ambivalence, but I really couldn’t be bothered poring over mock drafts, watching Mel Kiper get in a tizzy about some unheralded guy from East Blowbag State, or listening to someone dissect a player’s time in the 40-yard dash.

Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.

There. I feel better now. If you need me I’ll be over here drinking my strawberry frappe and surfing the net for news about the royal wedding.

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