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June 17, 2006

Shaquille O'Neal

MIAMI, FLORIDA: Practice Day

Q. After the game the other day you didn't think the foul was that significant on Stackhouse, given the expense, what is your reaction and how significant do you think it is?
SHAQUILLE O'NEAL: That's something that the league handles. I know James Posey did something similar in the Chicago series of a lesser magnitude, and he got the suspension. But, you know, in a situation like this, you never want anything like that to happen. You want everybody to be there.

Q. How significant will it be in this game in he's their leading scorer off the bench?
SHAQUILLE O'NEAL: We just have to come with the same focus and the same mentality that we had the last two games and, you know, it's going to be a very, very important game for us. We just have to be ready.

Q. You described yourself as the last true old school center. Why do you think there are so few new Shaqs coming up in the last few years, and why were there so many more centers in the early '80s and '90s?
SHAQUILLE O'NEAL: Well, the ones in the '80s and early '90s have been destroyed by me. (Laughter) And the ones that have been growing up in the early '90s going into the new millennium have been scared of me. So they changed their game. And, you know, hopefully it's better for the game.
You know, it is kind of exciting to see a seven-footer step out and shoot the three, come off the pick-and-roll. That's exciting to watch sometimes. But, you know, I'm from the, you know, the Wilts, the McAdoos, the Kareems, stay inside, take a beating and beat people up. That's just how I grew up playing the game. I never really had the ability to step out and shoot the jumper; nor did I really want to.

Q. In the aftermath of the Stackhouse suspension, Mark Cuban has said that you are getting away with far more than Stack ever thought about getting away with. Is that anything new for you to hear that and how would you respond?
SHAQUILLE O'NEAL: I mean, I can understand what Mr. Cuban is doing, just sticking up for his players and that's something he so should do. I had to tuck my elbows away in the Chicago series when my man, Sam wrote an article about me using my elbows back then. So my elbows have been tucked away since early May. Thank you, Sam. (Laughter).

Q. With the suspension of Stackhouse, do you think it could be a rallying point for the Mavericks, and do you care?
SHAQUILLE O'NEAL: We just have to go out and continue to play our game. You know, we know what we have to do. We just have to play well at home. That's the only thing that we're going to focus on right now. You know, we're not focusing on anything else. We know what we have to do. We just have to go out and do it.

Q. You said before the series, that you were expecting, you knew the Dallas franchise and you knew Cuban and you were expecting a very classy series. Has it gotten any less classy?
SHAQUILLE O'NEAL: No, it was just a hard foul. I mean, that's how I look at it. You know, it's over for me. It was a hard foul. It was a foul that I really, really enjoyed. Felt good, actually, the next morning when I woke up. Now I don't have to go see my chiropractor. He saved me $50. (Laughter).

Q. How has this series compared in being physical to some of the other Finals that you've been in, and do you think it will get more so now?
SHAQUILLE O'NEAL: I mean, one or two hard fouls doesn't constitute a physical series. It's just one or two hard fouls, and that was a good foul. It was a hard foul. It was a hard foul. I mean, it's not like where it's like, you know, the Pistons versus the Bulls in the early '90s. It's just one hard foul. One hard foul.

Q. You talk a lot about legacy, your legacy and caring about it a lot. Does Pat care much -- do you get a sense that that's something that's very important to him?
SHAQUILLE O'NEAL: I mean, we don't really talk about it to each other, but I'm sure he does. I mean, you know, he's a very, very focused individual, and, you know, he's very well prepared and keeps us very prepared. So deep down, he probably thinks about it, but I'm not sure.

Q. We're at a point now, you're playing for a championship and we're down to Game 5 and it's two-out-of-three basically. I'm wondering from your experience what is the pressure like when you get to a Game 5 or Game 6 of a final series; is it any different than the first four because there's such a finality to everything?
SHAQUILLE O'NEAL: It's a little more pressure. Like I've been saying, we know what we have to do, we have to take care of the ball, keep taking the high percentage shots, just keep playing our game, just keep playing our game.

Q. Avery said that they have not figured out a way to slow down Dwyane, and they came off the double team off of you some in that last game, have they put more attention on Dwyane, what are the possibilities for you?
SHAQUILLE O'NEAL: (Big smile). It will be good. (Laughter).
You know, no one has figured that out, not even me, on how to slow down Dwyane. He's a very, very unselfish player, very humble, very great player. You know, the good thing about our team is we've seen it all. So whatever they do, we've seen it before. We know what to do and we know how to adjust to it.

Q. What does it mean to you to play on Father's Day, and will your six children be at the arena tomorrow to see you?
SHAQUILLE O'NEAL: Yes, they come to every game. It's a very important day for all the fathers around the world, and I'm just a lucky, gracious man to be able to have six beautiful children.

Q. But what does it mean to you for them to see you first of all be playing this far in June and be playing on Father's Day and watching you play in the NBA Finals?
SHAQUILLE O'NEAL: Believe it or not, they don't really care too much about me, the basketball player. They refer to me as, "Dog Man" in the house.

Q. Because?
SHAQUILLE O'NEAL: Because I chase them around like a dog. (Growling) (laughter) That's what they call me when I come home. "Daddy, can we play Dog Man?"
They never ask me any basketball questions or about what I'm doing. I'm just lucky, lucky to be a father with six gorgeous children.

Q. Does Dirk Nowitzki call you that, too?
SHAQUILLE O'NEAL: No, I haven't bit him yet. (Laughter).

Q. Do you wish with all of these hard fouls and suspensions, do you wish the NBA league office would sort of swallow the whistle and just issue fewer suspensions?
SHAQUILLE O'NEAL: I mean, I don't handle that. I don't know when the rules have changed. I just know when I was coming up, I've seen a lot harder fouls. You know, it's only been one or two hard fouls. I mean, I don't want people to think this is a grimy fight. It's been one or two hard fouls. It was a foul that I really, really appreciated. Felt good. Felt real good. (Laughter).

End of FastScripts...

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