Thursday Afternoon Starting Five: Shaq the Big Shamrock?

Of course Alex Rodriquez is the headline star from yesterday in sports and I’ll have a piece up tomorrow on reaching 600 home runs, but let’s talk Shaq for a minute. Talking to Scoop a couple of nights ago, the legacy of Shaquille O’Neal was a speaking point: 4 rings, 15 All Star game appearances (3 MVP’s), 2 scoring titles, 1 NBA MVP, won Rookie of the Year in 1992 and has appeared on an All NBA team first to third 14 times. That’s a ridiculous resume which puts Shaq in the category of one of the most accomplished athletes ever. This can’t be questioned and in those Los Angeles Lakers years, he was truly the most dominant player I’ve ever seen.

In 2000, I went out to LA with one of my boys, Tracy Swain. We spent some money and sat 4 rows up center court. I had no idea I would subsequently become a writer 5 years later. I rocked a Steve McNair jersey after that Super Bowl and spotted Isaac Bruce in the stands during shoot around. I walked up to him to get an autograph…he looked at my jersey and had this “look at this cat” expression on his face. It wasn’t until his female companion implored him to sign it that he obliged. Ironically, the pen didn’t work and I took my pen and paper and bounced…heated at his response.

Anyway, the Lakers defeated KG and the Minnesota Timberwolves…right before the All Star break. If any of you have ever been to the Staple Center, you know games are events…everything Hollywood. Pete Sampras was in the seat next to me to put it in perspective. Got a few beers and as I walked up the steps, bumped into Vanessa Williams and almost lost my cotdamn mind (her sister is ridiculous).

During the game, I couldn’t believe how big Shaq was and he wore these white kicks that were gigantic. As he changed ends, you could feel as if this cat rumbled the entire building…crazy to watch. The Lakers were simply dominate that year and you knew they would win the title. Yes, Kobe was a monster, but if you were a fan of any other team, you were straight shook when the ball went into the post because somebody was getting boofed on.

Since I’ve gotten into the reporting game, I’ve come to know Shaq a little he tries to clown me every chance he gets.  There was a game here a couple of years back where Anthony Gilbert, David Aldridge and I walked into the locker room together. DA was a serious helping hand and while he interviewed Shaq for the Philadelphia Inquirer, I overheard him mentioning me to the big fella. Shaq gave me this crazy look but since it was DA, I was good. After he was done with the interview, Shaq got up, came over,  shook my hand and walked away.

You should have seen the expressions on the faces of say 20 writers in the room. I’ll never forget the moment and Shaq has been cool every time he sees me afterward.

After a 4 year championship stop in South Beach with Flash, Diesel landed in Phoenix for 2 uneventful years, was a part of Cleveland for a season and now heads to Boston to most likely close out a spectacular career.

I don’t have a problem with Shaq bouncing around the league.

As a player, the league is better off with him in it. Fans will come to games just to get a glimpse of one of the best centers ever before he retires. He joins a veteran front line that will be hell on opponents. The Celtics will be a problem because the first and second units will outsize most NBA teams. As Temple3 has correctly stated, the bigger teams usually are get the confetti reign [sic] in June, so Boston will definitely be in the mix. Think about it, with the exception of OKC and ORL, Shaq has played or will play for four of the current elite teams in the Lig (Cleveland being the team that will definitely fall off but the interest will be there).

I do think Shaq could have garnered more scoring, rebounding and block titles and won more rings, but the current generation was changed as soon as he thundered into Orlando after rockin’ with Chris Jackson and Stanley Roberts at LSU.

If I’m not mistaken, he also holds a 50 point game in the NCAA tournament to his credit…the LSU vs. Loyola Marymount game is one I also won’t soon forget.

When the time is right, I’ll drop the last part of the Chris Webber interview. Shaq quotes will be prominently featured. Good luck Shaq…I ain’t madatcha.

The links…

Shaq aboard for two years: Celtics add major player, personality (Boston Globe)

A-Rod does it! New York Yankees star Alex Rodriguez joins 600 home run club in 5-1 win over Jays (NY Daily News)

Broncos’ Elvis Dumervil could miss season with chest injury (Denver Post)

Thanks to Twitter, Injured Triathlete Rescued (Tonic)

Common Discusses the Murders of Black Youth in Wake of Chicago Area Killings (Rolling Out)

Dwil: AJ Daulerio Is America; ESPN Talking Head Asks Black NASCAR Crew Member to “Tap Dance” (Sports On My Mind)

The Decline Of The Conscious MC: Can It Be Stopped?

Senate Confirms Kagan to Supreme Court (Bloomberg)

Three Bright Planets Visible in Night Sky Triangle (Yahoo)

UFO files and their flights of fancy (Guardian)

The Mighty, mighty Mos…

14 Responses to “Thursday Afternoon Starting Five: Shaq the Big Shamrock?”

  1. Here’s the thing about Shaq that I think folks have continually failed to realize. He is now Shaquille O’Neal. He’s not the Diesel, Big Aristotle, or any other nickname he pulled out of his “ass”. However, ol dude put up 12 & 7 last year. How many teams would take 12 & 7 from their starting center right now? At least 2/3rds? Yet Shaq’s getting the veteran’s minimum and Brendan Haywood’s getting $55M? That’s a damn shame.

    -Ed.

  2. Burundi says:

    As a Detroiter, I have always despised the Celtics—and not just because of the rivalry with the Pistons, but also because of Bill Russell’s daughter’s account of how Russell was treated there in Boston (and then there was Charles Steward, etc.). However, I have been a HUGE fan of Shaq’s since a chance meeting in Orlando in 1994-95 and I wish him continued success, which is hard to do since he’ll be rocking “Bird Crap” Green, j/k. He was absolutely the classiest, nicest, most genuine dude , offering autographs and pictures (I’m now embarrassed that I didn’t take him up on the offer, btw). From then on, I said that I’d always pull for him. Since then, Shaq has since said, if memory serves, that he’d always set out to be the opposite of David Robinson, who once refused to give him (Shaq) an autograph. Thus, while Shaq may be near the end of his career, I agree, Mizzo, that both his production and his larger-than-life personality remain nonetheless good for the L.

  3. mapoui says:

    Shaq is extraordinary, like Magic a personality for the ages….top of the ladder he is indeed matured into Shaquille.

    http://sports.espn.go.com/new-york/nba/news/story?id=5442858

    is Isaih on his way up again?

  4. KevDog says:

    Shaq is a pathetic buffoonish jackass. I don’t like him, never will. He took what was the greatest talent in league history, save perhaps, LeBron, and turned it into the 3rd best player of his generation.

    I do think his signing was a good one by the Celts and I am on record as saying it’ll allow them to face the Lakers come June.

  5. TC says:

    I wish sometimes Shaq would behave in a more dignified manner, but I really get sick of some of my Laker fan friends talkin’ crap about Shaq now he doesn’t play for us anymore. Yeah, he’s a goof, I have my suspicions that he’s exceedingly opportunistic as a person, but as a basketball fan, I’ve never seen such a dominant year from a center as that ’99-’00 year. Shaq at that time was simply awesome.

  6. TC says:

    That comment about my Laker fan friends was not directed at you KevDog..just some of my dumbass friends whose memory doesn’t seem to extend past about 1 year.

  7. KevDog says:

    No pro TC. I dish it out to Shaq and I’m ok with taking it. I don’t like him and I despise Magic despite him being, at one time, my favorite athlete of all time.

    Shaq was an awesome force and Phil was at least as responsible for the Shaq/Kobe Split that probably cost us 2 rings by his enabling Shaq.

    But when all is said and done, Shaq should have geen GOAT and he’s behind both Tim and Kobe. Just a shame.

  8. TC says:

    Nah, it’s all good. I agree Phil is significantly responsible. I have to admit at the time I was firmly on Shaq’s side but I can’t say I’m a big fan of Shaq any more (at least personally). I’ll always love his game. It just gets me that my friends and supposed fans have memories of about 8 seconds and start comparing Shaq unfavorably to Gasol. I’m like….you effin’ kiddin’ me?

  9. KevDog says:

    Shaq was far more dominant than Gasol culd ever hope to be. That 1999-2000 Shaq was an absolute beast. And I do think he’s a damn good signing by the Celts. I think they hold off Miami for a year because of it.

  10. TC says:

    Yeah that was my point to my friends. I was like….y’all gonna take Pau in ’10 over Shaq in ’00? Whatever you guys are smokin’, I want some of that…

  11. Burundi says:

    What separates Shaq from anyone who has played the game in recent memory is that he developed legit big man post-up moves when all he could do was just pretty much dunk the ball. In fact, no one whom I can think of has come into the L with essentially a non existent skill set but went on to not only dominate, but go on to develop finesse moves when it became abundantly clear that Emperor Stern wasn’t gonna let Shaq throw his weight around like

    I understand Laker fan’s beef with Shaq because the rift with Kobe seemed to boil down to Shaq’s lack of a commitment to excellence, based up his failing time and time again to come into camp in shape. In fact, my squad benfitted from the rift when the Lakers were broomed in ’04-’05. Thus, I’ve got no problem with folks beef with Shaq.

    Shaq still deserves more respect than to be mentioned in any paragraph with Gasol.

  12. Burundi says:

    … Oops! Like Barkley

  13. Origin says:

    Great points on burundi. Not only did he develop great post moves……the man became the best passing big man in the league next to Webber and Divac.

    Plus unlike a center like howard he actually came into the NBA with ball handling skills. I would argue that Shaq, Duncan and David Robinson are the only big men that came into the league with the ball handling skills of a SF.

    In the whole shaq in LA thing………my beefs are that folks never hold Jerry Buss accountable. Same as in Chicago the media and fans lay the blame on Krause when Jerry Reinsdorf was the one that made the final decision to break up the 90s Bulls. And that folks say Shaq was lazy and didn’t take care of his body. Yet some how he is still in the league carrying more weight then any center, is older then any player. Yet looks healthy and moves better then players that are younger then him.

    His big fat lazy ass must be doing something right.

  14. KevDog says:

    Orgin

    You’re just letting Shaq off the hook. He is still effective because he was blessed with enormous physical gifts and developed some game. But when all is said and done, he’ll go down as the third best player of his generation and that is an insult to the talent he was fortunate to inherit.

    And while I do hold Phil as perhaps more accountable than Shaq even, given that he enabled Shaq to death and made the horrible miscalculation that Kobe would gladly play the Pippen beta Dog role, I can’t blame Buss at all. If Shaq had stayed, Kobe would have left. Shaq eventually turned into Gasol and LO.

    3 finals and two rings later, I say Buss absolutely made the right decision.

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