Turning the Gold Icon into Green: Shaq is Now and Forever our Big Shamrock

If I ask you what were you doing in the evening of February 19th, 2002 you will probably take some time to remember. After all, it was almost 9 years ago. Let me refresh your memory. To me, that game brings me back flashes of what how much it has always meant to me to beat the Lakers at their own home court during the years. During the last part of the 90's and also the beginning of the new century it was tougher for me to get some coverage of the Celtics games. I remember I had to go to some cyber café and look for all the information I could get from the net. I bought all the magazines, I had all the recaps and of course I had a regular season schedule poster always sticked on the door of my wardrobe. 2 dates were always circled in green. There were 2 games of the season that to me mattered the more, and I would do anything to watch them with passion.

And for two decades there was only once in the season that the Boston Celtics played in Los Angeles against the Lakers. Viewing the green play on the purple and gold parquet was a one night wonder in the whole season, the best combination of colors in the history of sports was a rare thing for most of my life. Those vintage videos from other decades were never live, always stored in some old VHS cassette or Youtube video. The whole regular season was condensed on a single night stand, between my beloved Celtics and the worst enemy, the Lakers. The Celtics always played great games there, including that night in which Antoine Walker gave us that win. Walker got 30 points, 14 rebounds and 10 assists and Pierce notched 33, 8 rebounds and 5 steals. I remember I partied for a whole week after that.

Between 1996 and 2004 the Green Machine had a main problem to solve in the middle. There was a certain beast called Shaquille O'Neal that would expose our weakness at the center position. He was completely unguardable but it wasn't as if we could throw a Kendrick Perkins like player to try and weaken Shaq. Shaq's matchup in his first game in gold against the Celtics was no other than Antoine Walker. Yes, Toine was our starting center for much of his rookie season and no, it wasn't the currently out of shape Walker. In the next years we would have centers like Mark Blount, Vin Baker and a plethora of underachievers that would be burnt by the fire of O'Neal in his prime.

History says that Shaq lost his first game against the Celtics with the Lakers but also that he won his first game against us with the hated purple uniforms in LA. Dino Radja could do nothing to hold the huge monster in the paint.

For 8 years meeting the Lakers meant facing the Shaq and that was always a challenge. But it has also been almost 8 years since the last time the stars aligned in LA in this particular fashion: the Celtics playing in Los Angeles with O'Neal being a part of the rivalry. It was in December 2003 and the Lakers beat us with 22 points and 16 rebounds of Shaq against a Celtics team that brought in players such as Michael "Yogi" Stewart, Chris Mihm and Vin Baker to the paint of the Staples. It has snowed a lot since that time, hasn't it? It is quite a coincidence that Shaq was traded out from the Lakers by the time Doc Rivers became the Celtics coach. It was Doc who brought Shaq back to the rivalry after so many years.

Today, for the first time in the history of the best rivalry of sports we have the Shaq. It feels as such a relief after all those years of hack a Shaq and fear for the big center. Now we have got the Shaq wearing green. Let me tell you something, if you told me back then that O'Neal would be proudly defending the Celtic pride on the Staples I wouldn't have believed it. In fact, I wouldn't have believed the fact that the Lakers would let him go. Shaq was the reason why the Lakers got three titles those years and the only reason why they didn't sink into mediocrity after the Magic Johnson years. If it wasn't for Shaq, the Lakers wouldn't have done anything those years. Kobe alone doesn't win NBA titles, and only the presence of O'Neal and the existence of the Buffon Wallace made it possible for the 30 shot per game machine Bryant to get the total of his NBA rings until now.

On a day like this, many people will talk about revenge and we will all think back to last June and the cruel game 7 of the Finals. We will talk about Perk being back to the place where he got hurt, KG facing Gasol and making sure he eats his words, Paul back to his hometown with a swagger and Ray to the place where he scorched the Lakers. We will revisit those games in the Finals and we will do it with the scent and passion of revenge in our hearts. On a day like this, I will talk about the magic of Shaquille O'Neal, the symbol of the latest greatness of the hated Lakers wearing the Celtic Green in the lands of Hollywood. I will talk about the pleasure of having stolen the biggest symbol of the Lakers glory in the last two decades and being able to show the colors of the true champion to the world.

The Green are back in town, once again. Ready for revenge. But for the first time we do it with Shaquille O'Neal on our side. Shaq is ready to show his true colors at the end of his long career. He is ready to give us back some of what he took away from us when he was a Laker. Every point will open a wound in his Lakers past, every rebound would give us back some lost game and every block would close another hope in the Lakers land of dream.

We stole the Shaq from the enemy, we will steal a win from them today. It's payback time, and revenge is in its way.

Get ready for a new chapter in history. Get ready for a new win. And we will show his icon as the biggest symbol of revenge. Shaquille O'Neal is not the Diesel or the Big Aristotle...in the end he is the Big Shamrock.

Prepare for the Big Vengeance, the Shamrock is greater than ever. The Shaq is on our side to complete the biggest alchemy of sports:  History is greener today