Mike Brown was coy regarding who would be his starting center come opening night. Barring injury, the worst kept secret in town is that Shaquille O'Neal would be starting at that position.
For Zydrunas Ilgauskas, who has given the team his blood, sweat, tears and feet, this could be a bitter moment. Not so.
Ilgauskas knew Shaq was coming and had little problem with it. His reaction in a nutshell: I'd rather be playing with him than against him. For the record that extends to practice as well.
''I did it a long time ago with John Lucas coming off my foot surgery,'' Ilgauskas said. ''It's still basketball. It's an adjustment. How I prepare for games and what my mindset - I guess it's something I have to learn on the fly basically because I haven't done it a lot."