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Assuming the surprise NBA trade that would move Shaquille O'Neal from Miami to Phoenix goes through, the biggest winner will be O'Neal himself. Miami does pretty good, too. As far as Phoenix is concerned, well, the results go one of two ways -- either it's huge (meaning a championship) or a bust (no championship) -- not much of a middle ground there.

The almost 36-year old O'Neal (left) moves from a team falling apart (9-37) to one that is 34-14 and obviously a contender for an NBA championship.  With the Suns, he'll be surrounded by stars Steve Nash and Amare Stoudemire -- a situation reminiscent if not exactly analogous to his Lakers days and one that gives him the opportunity of performing on the big stage in the postseason.

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Miami reportedly gets Shawn Marion, an All-Star forward, and guard Marcus Banks.  Marion is the prize here and his productivity compared to O'Neal's automatically makes the deal a plus for the Heat as it tries to rebuild 1 1/2 seasons removed from its own title season.  Marion, six years younger than Shaq, has averaged 36 minutes while playing in 47 games and averaging about 16 points and 10 rebounds a game.  Shaq, bothered by a bad hip, has played in just 32 games, averaging 28 minutes for about 14 points and eight rebounds a game.

For Phoenix, though, this is a gamble that in the short run can get them that elusive championship. With O'Neal, the Suns can match up with San Antonio's Tim Duncan and Houston's Yao Ming and give Stoudemire an opportunity to play in the better suited role of power forward.

But assuming this deal happens,  O'Neal has led a charmed NBA life, first with an Orlando Magic team that made it to the NBA Finals before being swept, then getting traded to the star-studded Lakers, then moving to the Heat for that title run two years ago and now moving from a dead end to a contender in Phoenix. Certainly, Shaq helped make those situations the winning ones that  they turned out to be but it's also nice to be in the right place at the right time, and Shaq has always managed to do that.

Photo credit:  AP

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