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.
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