THE DAY BEFORE the Celtics opened training camp, a nurse peered up at Shaq and delicately swirled a cotton swab inside each of his ample nostrils. The purpose was to determine the threat he posed to his new club. You'd think the team would have sussed that out before signing the 18-year vet, but this mission wasn't about the possibility of the NBA's oldest and beefiest jester undermining the game plan or locker room chemistry. No, this was about Shaq infecting the Celtics literally, with an invisible intruder that could turn Delonte West's big toe into a pus-filled plum or Paul Pierce's middle finger into an inflamed sausage or his elbow into an angry grapefruit.
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