MIAMI — Shaquille O'Neal's debut as a full-fledged NBA analyst had him raving about LeBron James and Dwyane Wade.
As for Chris Bosh?
Apparently, Shaq's not a big fan of his work.
During NBATV's show Tuesday to announce the league's schedule for the 2011-12 season — one jeopardized by a lockout — O'Neal referred to the Heat as having a "Big 2." Since Bosh, Wade and James teamed up in Miami, they've been called the "Big 3" in many circles.
"The Miami Heat, they've got a lot of great players, the 'Big 2.' They will be back," O'Neal said from Louisiana during the broadcast, when discussing the NBA finals and how Dallas was able to beat Miami for the title. "LeBron James is taking a lot of criticism, but I know LeBron very well. He hears everything that everyone is saying, so I think he's going to come back and have an MVP year this year."
After the discussion turned to O'Neal's health and his decision to retire, the talk was steered back to his "Big 2" comment.
O'Neal laughed off the notion that a controversy was already getting started.
"Dwyane Wade, LeBron James, you know, they're great players, they're probably the greatest backcourt ever assembled," O'Neal said. "And you know, they're going to get back. They're going to get back. They play well, they went through a lot, they put a lot of pressure on themselves. That's how they like it. And they will be back."
O'Neal was a teammate of James and Wade in the past. Wade and O'Neal were starters for Miami's 2006 NBA championship team.
He said he expects the Los Angeles Lakers, the Boston Celtics, Orlando Magic and the Heat to have strong seasons but suggested an "underdog" will emerge as the next NBA champion.
"There's a lot of great teams out there," O'Neal said.