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Shaquille O'Neal subtracts one from Miami's 'Big 3'

July 19, 2011 |  1:33 pm

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Everyone knows about the Miami Heat's "Big 3" -- everyone, that is, except Shaquille O'Neal.

Making his debut as a full-fledged NBA analyst on NBA TV's show announcing the 2011-12 season, O'Neal raved about the Heat's LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, referring to them as the "Big 2."

He made no mention of Chris Bosh, the player who completes the trio known by many as the "Big 3" ever since James and Bosh joined Wade with the Heat via free agency last summer.

"The Miami Heat, they've got a lot of great players, the 'Big 2.' They will be back," O'Neal said, referring to the Heat's series loss to the Dallas Mavericks in the NBA Finals. "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."

O'Neal, who recently retired after 19 NBA seasons and landed a gig as an NBA analyst on TNT, later laughed off the suggestion that his "Big 2" comment would start some controversy. Once again, he made no mention of Bosh.

"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."

Maybe O'Neal just likes being the one who hands out nicknames with the word "big" in them (although he usually gives those nicknames to himself).

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-- Chuck Schilken

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Photo: Shaquille O'Neal announces his retirement from the NBA in June. Credit: John Raoux / Associated Press

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