Shaq’s Bad News Latest in Disastrous Miami Heat Season
by Jennifer Jordan
It’s not getting any easier for the Miami Heat. Not only are they looking down the barrel of a skid towards depravity – they’ve now lost 14 games in a row – but recent news has Shaquille O’Neal where no Heat fan wants him: on the sidelines. This is just the latest bad news for a season that has been bad all around.
Shaquille O’Neal, a basketball household name if there ever was one, has been a star center in the league since his rookie year. Playing for several teams, he has been a bright spot in Miami since joining them. This season, averaging 14.2 points per game, 7.8 rebounds, and 1.7 blocks, he isn’t quite the force he once was. At 35 years old, what’s to be expected has happened: it appears that Shaq has slowed down. Still, his numbers have been good enough to give a weak Miami team strength in the middle. Without him, the Heat have yet another hole in their lineup. That, as Miami fans know, is the last thing they need.
Unfortunately, injuries aren’t anything new to Shaq: over the past six seasons, he has missed an average of twenty games per year for a myriad of different injuries. He can now add his hip to the list of body parts that have turned against him.
O’Neal originally injured his left hip in a December 22nd game against the Utah Jazz. It was, ironically, the last game Miami won before their losing streak began. Attempting to dive for a loose ball, O’Neal came down hard on his hip. It hasn’t been the same since.
After missing eight games between December 28th and January 11th – and seeking treatment from specialists in Los Angeles – O’Neal returned on January 16th, seemingly ready to go. His return, however, was very short lived.
On January 21st, in a game against the Cleveland Cavaliers, O’Neal was forced to leave in the first quarter. He had his hip taped up and then returned, but – this time – he was noticeably hurting. Now, he will miss at least two weeks to give his hip a rest.
On January 22nd, an MRI was performed and found that both his hip joint and quadriceps muscle were plagued by acute inflammation. The plan of action is ice, rest, and no basketball or exercise, at least not for a while. The injury appears to be one that will heal itself if left alone.
Scheduled to miss a minimum of six games, O’Neal is now a wait and see decision. The earliest he will be able to return (barring a drastic recovery) is February 6th against the Detroit Pistons. For the Miami Heat, that might not be soon enough.