New York Knicks News: Shaquille O’Neal Doubts Knicks Can Beat the Heat

By Melissa Siegel, Posted: 09/26/12 11:21AM EDT

Former Los Angeles Lakers and Miami Heat center Shaquille O'Neal has been a part of four championship teams. And when he looks at this year's New York Knicks' squad, he's not sure they have what it takes, especially against the Miami Heat.

"Every now and then you get a team that reigns supreme for a while and everyone is going to have to go through Miami," O'Neal told the New York Daily News on Monday. "The Knicks and probably the Sixers will be (Miami's) toughest test. But unless the Knicks' 1-2 punch (of Stoudemire and Anthony) plays at a super level, they don't have a shot."

O'Neal was in New York for the annual "Great Sports Legends" dinner that benefits The Buoniconti Fund. The fund is named after Marc Buoniconti, the son of Miami Dolphins great Nick Buoniconti, and raises money for spinal cord research.

Some of the other stars at the event were a bit more optimistic. Former Knicks great Walt Frazier told the New York Post that he thinks the team can contend this season. However, he too admitted they will have to go through the Heat first.

"I like the new acquisitions of Kidd and Camby," Frazier told the New York Post at the same event. "It's disappointing that we lost [Lin]. I wanted to see what he could do in a full season. The Heat obviously are going to be the favorite, but I think the Knicks can compete with them this year."

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Meanwhile, O'Neal's former teammate Alonzo Mourning likes the veteran additions the Knicks made in the offseason. New York currently has five players with at least 10 years of experience in the league and could have one more if they sign Rasheed Wallace, who worked out for the team on Saturday.

"I think this team is a lot better than the Hawks teams (Mike Woodson) coached,"  Mourning told the Daily News. "They'll be a better defensive team. I think veterans know how to play the game at the right time of year. You want that experience when it comes to winning. You only hope leadership and experience can rub off on the younger guys."

Mourning makes a good point about the veterans on the team, but leadership can only take a team so far. The Knicks will need talent to contend, and many of these veterans may struggle to make it through a full NBA season.

O'Neal and Frazier are correct that the Heat are the team to beat in the Eastern Conference. New York was just 1-7 against Miami last season, including a 4-1 series loss in the first round of the playoffs. Unless New York can prove that it has what it takes to beat the Heat and other top contenders, the Knicks will be looking at another early playoff exit.

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