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Find out the scoop on the CAVS from award-winning sports writer Bob Finnan.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Checking in from Cavsland

After the press conference to introduce Shaquille O'Neal to the Cleveland fans, I was one of a group of reporters taken behind the scenes to meet the 7-foot-1, 325-pounder.

I had met him before, but not on such a personal basis. He was sitting with his wife, Shaunie Nelson, in the cafeteria at Cleveland Clinic Courts.

During the press conference, I had asked Shaq if coming to the Cavs was a one-year proposition, or was he angling for a contract extension. He paused before he answered, and then said if the Cavs offer him a $35 million extension, he'd sign it now.

I told him later that I wasn't trying to stir up anything, but he had twice referred to the fact he wants to play three more years before retiring. Well, he has one year remaining on his deal worth $20 million.

He said, "Don't worry about it," and then shook hands. His hands are massive.

I told him, "Welcome to Cleveland."

What do you say to one of the all-time great centers in NBA history? "How's the weather up there?"

I also met his agent, Las Vegas' Perry Rogers. He said one doesn't go into a situation like Cleveland's and make any kind of demands. He said Shaq is concentrating on one thing: Winning his fifth NBA title.

If that happens, then maybe they'll ask for an extension.

If that happened, maybe the Cavs will give him one, even though it would mess up their free-agent plans in the summer of 2010.


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