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Many were shocked to see former NBA great Allen Iverson bring his talents to Istanbul, Turkey this fall. Now there are reports that Besiktas Cola Turka, the team that signed Iverson, is also interested in acquiring Boston Celtics’ center Shaquille O’Neal.
Shaq is currently in the first year of a two-year, $3 million contract with the Celtics. By the time the contract expires, he’ll be 40 years old. The idea of Shaq heading to Turkey to finish his basketball career at the age of 40 seems completely ridiculous.
However, Besiktas general manager Seref Yalcin claimed O’Neal told him, “I want to be a champion this season with Boston. But I’m coming to Turkey next year,” according to Hoopsnotes.
There are plenty of reasons to be skeptical of Yalcin’s comments. The most obvious being that Shaq, at the age of 38, is currently under a two-year contract. He’s also undergone a transformation in the first half of this season. After an up and down year in Cleveland in 2009-2010, the 18-year veteran is now averaging 11.2 points and 6.4 rebounds in 22.0 minutes per game with Boston.
Iverson left for Turkey because no NBA teams were willing to offer him the money or playing time he desired. Shaq on the other hand, is in a great situation with the 18-4 Celtics. He’s been highly productive in the absence of the injured Kendrick Perkins, and he’s playing alongside some of the best players in the world in Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, and Rajon Rondo. Thus, it would be an odd move for him to finish his career in Turkey, and jeopardize the chance to capture another NBA championship.
A Turkish newspaper report translated by SLAM Magazine said that Iverson’s manager Gary Moore, who is close with Shaq, could play a key role in bringing him to Istanbul before his contract with the Celtics’ expires.
“Besiktas Cola Turka management has rolled up their sleeves to bring another NBA superstar to Istanbul,” the report said. “Besiktas fans and management, who are very pleased with the arrival of Allen Iverson, have now set their sights on luring Boston Celtics center Shaquille O’Neal overseas.”