Ranking the 5 worst Boston Celtics starters of the new ‘Big 3’ era

Boston Celtics Mandatory Credit: Jennifer Stewart-USA TODAY Sports
Boston Celtics Mandatory Credit: Jennifer Stewart-USA TODAY Sports /
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Shaquille O'Neal, Boston Celtics. (Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Shaquille O’Neal, Boston Celtics. (Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images) /

3. Shaquille O’Neal, Boston Celtics center 2010-11

Again, 2011 — weird time for the Boston Celtics. The team was coming off of a heartbreaking Game 7 loss in the 2010 NBA Finals and was looking to add reinforcements for another run at Banner 18 (a tradition that still lives on today — brutal).

Amongst those that joined Boston’s Big 3 for the 2010-11 campaign was NBA legend Shaquille O’Neal. Shaq’s time with the Celtics had its ups and downs, but it was mostly plagued by injury.  He missed a total of 52 games across the regular-season and playoffs, during his lone season in green.

His prolonged absence due to an Achilles injury was a large reason for the aforementioned Nenad Krstic’s large role towards the end of the year.

However, when O’Neal was able to actually get on the floor, he was pretty decent in his role. He averaged 9.2 points and 4.8 rebounds per game, playing about 20.3 minutes each time out.

Enjoy this grainy mixtape of his highlights in Boston:

One of the main reasons that Shaq finds himself on this list is because of his impact on Danny Ainge’s decision to move Kendrick Perkins.

Perkins didn’t have as much of a role with the team because of the addition of The Diesel. So, Ainge took the surplus at the center spot and tried to turn it into some extra wing depth — Jeff Green.

But, once Shaq went down he was never able to get back up, and Boston was left feeling a bit small in the middle.

“Had the career-ending injury. Said to myself, ‘I’m old. I don’t wanna do the whole rehab thing and try to be the great Shaq player,’ ” O’Neal recalled in a 2019 with Kristine Leahy on FOX Sports 1’s “Fair Game.” “Because one thing I am with myself, I’m honest. I’m Shaq, but I’m not Shaq (in 2010-11). Shaq is not Shaq when he’s averaging seven, eight, nine points (per game). That’s not Shaq. I can still entertain and do stuff to make people giggle, but that’s not Shaq. I’m robbing the people. I’m robbing the Celtics. ‘You’re only paying me a million (dollars). I don’t feel right. I’m not coming back. Here’s your money back, sir. Thank you very much.’ ”

O’Neal was a fun addition, but never quite panned out the way that Boston had hoped. Instead, Celtics Shaq just became a metaphor for saying a player is washed.